March 30, 2016 / 4:58 PM / 3 years ago

Colombia to open formal peace talks with ELN rebels: statement

Frank Pearl (L), head of Colombian government delegation and Antonio Garcia, head of National Liberation Army (ELN) delegation, shake hands after signing a joint statement to begin formal peace talks at Venezuela's foreign Ministry in Caracas, March 30, 2016. REUTERS/Marco Bello

CARACAS (Reuters) - The Colombian government is to begin formal peace talks with the country’s second largest rebel group, the National Liberation Army (ELN), according to a joint statement on Wednesday in Venezuela’s foreign ministry.

The talks, which will take place in Ecuador, could move Colombia a step closer to ending a five-decade conflict. They are separate from negotiations underway with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC.

Reporting by Eyanir Chinea; Writing by Girish Gupta; editing by Grant McCool

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