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Colombian, ELN lay out agenda for peace talks

Editor: zhangrui 丨Xinhua

02-17-2017 07:26 BJT

QUITO, Feb. 16 (Xinhua) -- The Colombian government and the National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrilla group reached an agreement Thursday on the agenda of the further peace talks in Quito, Ecuador, both chief negotiators announced.

In a press conference, the government's chief negotiator, Juan Camilo Restrepo, and his ELN counterpart, Pablo Beltran, released the first joint statement reached since talks began on Feb. 7.

The statement revealed that both sides have agreed on topics relating to Colombian public participation in peace-building efforts as well as humanitarian actions.

Two separate working committees will work on these topics, alongside the main negotiation table, according to the agreement.

Furthermore, both sides agreed to honor the agreement reached in March 2016.

The next stage of the talks will last 45 days and will see the participation of guarantor countries (Brazil, Chile, Cuba, Ecuador, Norway and Venezuela), the statement said.

Restrepo added that the joint statement reflected the advances made during the first week of negotiations.

"It shows that the talks have started well, in good spirits and mutual respect. We now want to move forward and this fact alone is very positive for a process that took over two years to reach this public phase," he outlined.

Beltran also stated that the joint statement "was a message that while there are important differences in many aspects, we will find a common path."

"The very important first steps have been taken, we are moving forward in settling the rules about how the talks will work, how decisions will be taken. These have been eight very intense days, but we feel it is a good start," he outlined.

Beltran added that the participation of a group of European countries, made up of Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Italy "will improve the help provided by the international community to this dialogue."

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