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Brief: ELN Talks Peace

COLOMBIA / 18 APR 2011 BY ELYSSA PACHICO EN

On April 16, the National Liberation Army (Ejercito de Liberacion Nacional - ELN) released a statement on their website, Voices of Colombia, referring again to their desire to see a "political solution" to the Colombian conflict. The release is signed by ELN commander Nicolas Rodriguez Bautista, alias "Gabino," who'd made similar statements last October in a video uploaded to Youtube. This is only the latest in a series of communications from the ELN and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia - FARC) signaling that the top levels of rebel command are interested in a dialogue with the government. Notably, during a peace conference held in Buenos Aires between February 21 and 23, former Colombian Senator Piedad Cordoba presented statements from the ELN and from Guillermo Leon Saenz Vargas, "Alfonso Cano," which also affirmed the rebels' interest in "talking" with the government. It is doubtful however that President Juan Manuel Santos will respond before the rebels back up the talk with firmer commitments, such as the release of all political hostages, or the declaration of a ceasefire.

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