Colombia and the National Liberation Army (ELN) rebel group Saturday released a joint statement saying that they will resume peace talks in Mexico next month, in response to the government recently declaring, and then subsequently calling off, a bilateral ceasefire.These talks have been in process since last year, with the goal of bringing an end to the nearly six decades of war between the two sides. There was confusion regarding the ceasefire, with ELN claiming it had not agreed to it, while the government argued that this position had been the result of a misunderstanding.An emergency meeting was held in Caracas between the two groups earlier this week. In the statement it was agreed that a subsequent round of negotiations would be held in Mexico on February 13.Speaking on the progress that has already been made, the groups were grateful for the “frankness and depth of discussion” between the two sides. On the cycles of negotiations, they went on to emphasize that, “In said cycle, the issue of society’s participation in peace building will be addressed. At the same time, a bilateral ceasefire will begin to be discussed and agreed upon.”Coverage of the talks reported that Otti Patiño, the head of the Colombian government delegation for talks with the ELN, assured that the “trust” between both parties had been strengthened after the meetings held in Caracas. He added that in any negotiation process there will be “errors” but hoped that this process could find solutions in an “expedited” and secure manner.Speaking on the process, Pablo Beltrán, the head of the ELN delegation, agreed that the issue of the bilateral ceasefire would have to be discussed in the second cycle of talks scheduled for February 13 in Mexico, stating, “You have to agree on the rules of the game, which are called protocols, and these protocols in turn cover the State Armed Forces and the ELN, because they bind both.”

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