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Colombia's ELN Rebels Propose Ceasefire for Pope's Visit

A graffiti, of rebel group Army Liberation National (ELN) is seen at the entrance of the cemetery of El Palo, Cauca, Colombia, Feb. 10, 2016.

Colombia's leftist ELN rebels on Monday asked the government to agree to a bilateral ceasefire amid peace talks in honor of a September visit by Pope Francis.

The National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrilla group, which was founded in 1964 by radical Catholic priests, said a ceasefire would improve negotiating conditions at peace talks with the government of President Juan Manuel Santos taking place in Ecuador.

"We propose receiving Pope Francis in September with a bilateral ceasefire, to give more strength to the process of talks," the ELN said in a statement. "It would be most appropriate to agree immediately to a ceasefire."

"President Santos, you have the floor," the group added.

The ELN said last month it does not anticipate a peace deal in time for 2018 presidential and legislative elections.

Pope Francis will visit four cities during a visit beginning Sept. 6.