The Colombian government and the National Liberation Army (ELN) insurgent group announced on Tuesday the resumption of peace talks after a three-year hiatus.
The announcement was made during a joint press conference of senior ELN leaders and a team of negotiators representing the Colombian government in Caracas, Venezuela.
Venezuela is one of the countries guarantors of the negotiation process, launched more than six years ago but stopped in 2019 by former Colombian President Ivan Duque.
His successor, Gustavo Petro, has made the resumption of peace talks a priority for his government since taking office in August.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres welcomed the announcement, according to a statement from spokesman Stephane Dujarric, and thanked Venezuela alongside Cuba and Norway for facilitating the process.
“(Guterres) urges both parties to fully seize this opportunity to end a deadly decades-long conflict whose resolution is essential to broadening the scope of peace in the country. It positively notes the agreement of the parties to build their talks on the basis of the progress of previous negotiations, as well as the importance they attach to the participation of civil society in the construction of peace,” said Dujarric.
“The Secretary-General hopes that Colombians can once again demonstrate that even the most entrenched conflicts can be resolved through dialogue,” he added.
Last month, Colombia and Venezuela restored diplomatic ties after more than two years, aimed in part at resuming talks with guerrilla forces that control large swathes of territory across the Colombian and Venezuelan border.
The ELN is one of the largest guerrilla forces still active in the region. Born as a Marxist insurgent force in the 1960s, the group funds its activities through kidnappings, extortion and involvement in narcotics trafficking.
In recent years, the ELN has expanded its operations into southern Venezuela, where it controls illegal mining operations.