MOSCOW (Sputnik) – ELN, the second-largest rebel group in Colombia, agreed to release all the hostages it was holding ahead of the peace talks with the government which were scheduled for Thursday. However, the group failed to confirm to the government that it was going to release Odin Sanchez, a former member of Congress.
"I have instructed the negotiating team of the government to suspend the journey … [The formal installation of the talks] will be postponed until they release Odin Sanchez alive and well," Santos said later on Thursday, as quoted by El Tiempo newspaper.
In August, the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrilla group, the largest in the country, announced a comprehensive peace agreement to end decades of conflict. The deal includes agreements on landmine removal, land reform, transitional justice and the end of illegal drug trafficking.
Earlier this month, voters in Colombia rejected the deal in a referendum. Despite the referendum’s result, President Juan Manuel Santos has pledged to continue seeking peace with FARC.