AFP (with additional material by AP). 31 January 2002. Colombian
government, ELN to continue talks after Summit for Peace in Cuba.
HAVANA -- Representatives from the Colombian government and the National
Liberation Army (ELN) will continue their peace talks in a private
meeting here Friday, after the official close of the Cuba-sponsored
Summit for Peace, a spokesman for the rebel group said Thursday.
"We will have a new round of private talks with the government on
Friday," ELN spokesman Ramiro Vargas told reporters.
The summit was scheduled to end on Thursday, but Vargas said it is
"still too early to talk about results."
"We must wait and see what comes out of the committee sessions," he
Summit participants -- including civilians and international
representatives, as well as UN special adviser on Colombia James LeMoyne
-- were divided into five groups tasked with providing recommendations
for continuing the dialogue.
The summit -- which opened here Tuesday, presided over by host Cuban
President Fidel Castro -- was aimed at evaluating the "obstacles and
successes of talks between the government of President (Andres) Pastrana
and the rebel group," Colombian officials said in a statement.
Participants in the talks agreed on the need to reduce the intensity of
the violence in Colombia.
They said they are not negotiating, but rather "evaluating" four years
of discussions and trying to come up with a working plan for talks after
a new government takes over after August elections.
"We have to resist the invitation, the provocation, to set aside the
process and enter into years of war," LeMoyne said.
ELN representatives did say Wednesday that they would consider a
cease-fire if it also applied to the army.
"The entire peace process is very complex, very difficult," rebel
spokesman Ramiro Vargas told reporters here. "Thus, we cannot hope that
one day peace just appears in Colombia."
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