QUITO – Representatives of the Colombian government and the National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrilla group said on Friday that technical committees would continue working during a brief pause in peace talks in Quito, where the parties have concluded two rounds of discussions.
The announcement was made in a statement to reporters at the headquarters of Ecuador’s Foreign Ministry, where the two sides thanked the host nation for the hospitality it has shown since formal peace talks began on Feb. 7.
Starting July 10, discussions will resume involving several commissions, including one that will analyze how to lower the intensity of Colombia’s armed conflict and eventually reach a cease-fire, the ELN’s Pablo Beltran said.
He added that he hoped a truce would be in effect before Pope Francis visits Colombia in early September.
The head of the Colombian government’s delegation to talks with the ELN, Juan Camilo Restrepo, said the technical commissions would strive to maintain the momentum of the talks by discussing humanitarian issues and seeking ways of de-escalating the conflict.
The two sides will resume public conversations on July 24.
Restrepo also added Friday that members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), which had been Colombia’s largest guerrilla group, have completed the process of handing over their personal weapons to United Nations monitors.
Last year, the FARC and Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos’ administration signed a peace deal that had been hammered out during nearly four years of talks in Cuba.