18 January 2017
The National Liberation Army (Ejército de Liberación Nacional - ELN) and the Colombian Government have been in Equador since the weekend in order to come to agreements that will enable the public phase of the Peace Talks to beging. The ELN are Colombia's second largest Guerrilla Group.
The informal talks with the ELN began in 2013. The Colombian Government and the ELN originally announced in October 2016 that they were starting the public phase of the Peace Talks. However, following this announcement talks were suspended.
The Colombian Government insisted that the ELN release all of its hostages before beginning the Public Phase of the Peace Talks, however the ELN insisted that this had not been part of the agreements made prior to announcing the start date. The main stumbling block has been the ELN's refusal to release Congressman Odín Sánchez, who they are holding hostage.
Earlier in the day 18 January 2017 President Santos announced from the World Economic Forum of Davos, that later positive news would be announced from Ecuador.
The international guarantors for the ELN Peace Talks are Venezuela, Norway, Cuba, Chile, Brazil and Ecuador.
The Joint Declaration stated the following:
On 18 January 2017, from Ecuador, the negotiating delegations of the Colombian Government and the ELN (Ejército de Liberación Nacional) announced the date for the start of the public phase of the Peace Talks and the date for the release of Ex-Congressman Odín Sánchez Montes de Oca (currently being held hostage by the ELN).