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Colombian President: ELN Rebel Talks Underway

A Colombian soldier, left front, escorts rebels of the National Liberation Army, ELN, who gave themselves up at a military base in Cali, July 16, 2013.
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos announced Tuesday that the government has been holding preliminary peace talks with the country's second largest leftist rebel group.

Santos said talks with the National Liberation Army, or ELN, began earlier this year in Havana.

The Colombian leader said there will be no formal talks until the ELN meets certain conditions, which he did not spell out.

Colombia has been negotiating with the largest rebel group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, since November 2012.

President Santos said those talks, also being held on Cuba, are in their "final phase."

Both rebel groups have been battling the Colombian government for about 50 years, often kidnapping politicians and foreigners as bargaining chips.

The centrist President Santos is in a very tight re-election campaign against right-wing opposition candidate Oscar Ivan Zuluaga, who has criticized peace efforts with the rebels. A run-off election is scheduled for Sunday.

Some information for this report comes from AP, AFP and Reuters.