QUITO – The delegations from the Colombian government and the National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrillas on Tuesday thanked Ecuador for its support in hosting the peace talks being held in the Andean country.
The two delegations made their gratitude known at a breakfast presided over by outgoing Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa at Carondelet palace in Quito, where – in addition to the two parties to the talks – Ecuadorian ministers and representatives from the guarantor nations of Brazil, Cuba, Norway, Venezuela and Chile were on hand.
In inaugurating the event, Correa reiterated that Ecuador welcomes the negotiators “with open arms,” without seeking prominence or attention and with the sole aim of “just serving.”
“Believe me that we all hope, with much anticipation, that those dialogues, as soon as possible, will lead to a good end, as already happened with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and that our beloved Colombia will take an important step in finding true peace,” Correa said.
“Peace is not only the absence of war. Of course, it’s fundamental, it’s a crucial step, but peace is above all the presence of justice, dignity, equality of opportunities, equity, prosperity and ... the absence of violence,” the Ecuadorian leader said, noting that Latin America is one of “the planet’s most unequal” regions.
Correa said that the peace talks in Ecuador “fill all Latin Americans with hope” and he emphasized the decision of his Colombian counterpart, Juan Manuel Santos, to engage in dialogue with the armed groups in that country.
“Sometimes, much more courage is needed for peace than for war,” he emphasized.
Meanwhile, Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Guillaume Long emphasized the importance of the fact that Correa had met with the Colombian representatives just days before his tenure in office will come to an end on May 24, when Lenin Moreno, his successor and official president-elect, will be inaugurated.
At the breakfast with media representatives present, the head of the Colombian government’s negotiating team, Juan Camilo Restrepo, expressed his country’s “profound gratitude” for the “hospitality” Ecuador has offered for the negotiations.
And he emphasized that Moreno had reiterated recently in Bogota Ecuador’s commitment and hospitality with an eye toward continuing the peace process.
ELN delegation chief Pablo Beltran, meanwhile, said that advances in the peace dialogue could not be made without the political and diplomatic support of the nations involved in the process.
The Colombian government and the ELN rebels on Feb. 7 launched a dialogue designed to end the armed confrontation they have maintained for more than 52 years.