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Colombian Government, ELN Agree on Ceasefire

  • VOA News

The Delegate of the Colombian rebel group Ejercito de Liberacion Nacional, ELN, right, talks as Colombia's government delegate Juan Camilo Restrepo, center, and Ecuador's Foreign Minister Fernanda Espinosa listen during a press conference at the foreign mministry in Quito, Ecuador, June 30, 2017.

After months of negotiations, the Colombian government has reached a ceasefire deal with the country's last active guerilla group, the National Liberation Army (ELN).

The announcement was made in Quito - neighboring Ecuador's capital where talks were being held, on the eve of Pope Francis's visit to Colombia.

"We have said that the visit of Pope Francisco should be an extra motivation to accelerate the search for agreements, which have as the main target communities that suffer the unfortunate consequences of the conflict," ELN said on one of its Twitter accounts, using the Spanish name for Pope Francis.

FARC, Colombia's largest rebel group, signed a peace deal with the government last year, largely ending five decades of war. But Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos has negotiated with ELN, the country's second-largest rebel group, since February, seeking a deal to ensure "complete peace".

Leftist rebels began fighting a guerrilla war to topple Colombian governments in 1964, and more than 220,000 people have been killed. The rebels used drug trafficking and kidnappings for ransom to fund their war.

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