"If the appropriate conditions are secured, negotiations with ELN will start on Thursday, Juan Camilo Restrepo will be the head of the negotiators' group," the president wrote on his Twitter page.
The ELN is the second-largest rebel group in Colombia after FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia), included by the European Union and the United States on the list of the terrorist organizations. The only condition for the Colombian authorities was the release of all the hostages by ELN. The rebels agreed to meet this condition.
Peace talks with ELN are to start when the authorities managed to establish a dialogue with FARC. Earlier this month, voters in Colombia rejected a peace deal between the government and FARC, which was intended to end a 52-year conflict in which a quarter-million Colombians have died. Despite the referendum’s result, President Juan Manuel Santos has pledged to continue seeking peace with the left-wing guerrillas.
The Colombian Conflict dates back to 1964 and involves Colombian government, crime groups and guerrillas such as FARC and ELN aimed at influence in Colombian territory.