QUITO Colombian Foreign Minister Maria Angela Holguin is participating on Monday in preliminary contacts between Bogota and the National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrillas in the Ecuadorian city of Montecristi, Ecuadorian diplomatic officials confirmed to EFE.
Participating in the tripartite meeting are Colombian government representatives, the ELN and members of the former Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebels.
Heading the Colombian team is Peace Commissioner Rodrigo Rivera Alto and chief negotiator Juan Camilo Restrepo.
Playing a central role in the talks, which were authorized by President Juan Manuel Santos, are members of the newly formed Revolutionary Alternative Force of the Commons, also known by the acronym FARC, represented by Rodrigo Londoņo, Ivan Marquez and Carlos Antonio Losada, along with ELN representatives Pablo Beltran, Aurelio Carbonell, and others, the sources said.
Holguins participation in the talks had not been expected and the Ecuadorian diplomatic officials said that official talks between Bogota and the ELN will commence on Tuesday.
On Oct. 20, Santos had announced that he had authorized members of the FARC to travel to Ecuador, which is hosting the dialogue, to meet with ELN leaders.
This is the second time the parties have met with the authorization of the Colombian government, the first being last May in Havana.
The government and the ELN began their dialogue process in early February in Quito with an eye toward ending the armed confrontation they have pursued for more than 52 years, a process that is supported by five guarantor nations: Brazil, Cuba, Chile, Norway and Venezuela.
To date, the biggest advance in the dialogue has been the crafting of a bilateral cease-fire that will run until Jan. 9, 2018, although discussions of extending it beyond that date have already been held.