Colombian Rebels Pledge To Stop Kidnappings For Ransom

(MENAFN- The Peninsula) AFP

Mexico City: Colombian rebels who caused an uproar by abducting the father of a national football star said Sunday they have agreed to stop kidnappings for ransom.

This pledge by the National Liberation Army (ELN) was announced in a joint statement with the government of President Gustavo Petro as a fifth round of peace negotiations concluded in Mexico City.

The talks are aimed at ending six decades of fighting between Bogota and one of the last active leftist rebel armies in a country torn by decades of fighting involving guerrillas, rightwing paramilitary groups and drug gangs.

The ELN pledge to halt abductions for money -- a common practice in years of conflict -- "is an announcement that is critical for peace in Colombia," said Vera Grabe, the head of the government delegations to the talks.

The negotiations came after the recent kidnapping -- and release -- by the ELN of the father of Liverpool footballer Luis Diaz, which had threatened to upend a delicate ceasefire. Sunday's statement said the truce will continue, however.

It is scheduled to conclude January 29 but both sides said Sunday they envision extending it.

"It is feasible to extend it in February," said Pablo Beltran, the head of the guerrilla delegation.

Football star Diaz's father, Luis Manuel Diaz, was released on November 9 after being kidnapped for 12 days.

The ELN described the kidnapping by one of its units as a "mistake."


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