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UN chief hails peace talks by Colombia's conflicting parties

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday welcomed the launch of formal peace talks between the government of Colombia and the National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrilla group in Quito, the capital of Ecuador.

In the talks with the second-largest opposition group, the Colombian government seeks an agreement similar to the one reached last year with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), to end a five decade-long conflict.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters that resolving the conflict is essential to achieving a comprehensive peace in Colombia, to saving lives and to advancing sustainable development across the whole country.

"The secretary-general takes note of the commitment of the parties to listen to the voices of the communities affected by the conflict," Dujarric said in a statement.

The UN chief also commended Brazil, Chile, Cuba, Ecuador, Norway and Venezuela for their commitment as guarantors, as well as the other accompanying and supporting countries, it added.

The Colombian government and the ELN began their official talks on Tuesday aiming at ending five decades of fighting.

The ceremony was attended by representatives of countries backing the peace talks, including Norway, Chile, Cuba, Brazil and Venezuela, with about 150 guests and some 60 international and national media outlets.

The talks are buoyed by the fact that the Colombian government recently concluded a peace deal with the country's largest rebel group the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), which is now in the process of laying down arms.

[Source: Xinhua, United Nationas, 08Feb17]

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