ELN rebels
Founded in 1964, the ELN had more than 5,800 combatants in 2022, according to Colombian authorities. AFP

Colombia's government and the National Liberation Army (ELN) rebel group started a sixth round of peace talks Monday, seeking to agree in Cuba on an extension of a ceasefire that expires next week.

In a message on X, the ELN delegation posted a photograph of its negotiators in Havana, and said the sides would seek to "move closer to the transformations Colombia needs."

Colombia's last active guerrila group, which turns 60 this year, agreed with the government in a previous round of talks in Havana last June on a six-month ceasefire that entered into force in August.

Then in December, in Mexico, the ELN agreed to put an end to all kidnappings -- a means of raising funds through ransom money.

Earlier this month, however, the prosecutor's office said the rebel group was now "outsourcing" the kidnappings instead.

Last October, members of an ELN unit kidnapped the father of Liverpool footballer Luiz Diaz, threatening to upend the delicate ceasefire. Luis Manuel Diaz was released 12 days after he was taken in what the ELN described as a "mistake."

Talks with the ELN resumed in November 2022 after the election of Colombia's first-ever leftist president Gustavo Petro.

They had been suspended by his predecessor Ivan Duque in 2019 after a car bomb attack on a police academy in Bogota that left 22 people dead.

Founded in 1964, the ELN had more than 5,800 combatants in 2022, according to authorities.

The Marxist group has taken part in failed negotiations with Colombia's last five governments.

The much larger Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, laid down arms in a historic peace accord reached in 2016.

Yet Colombia has continued to be gripped by violence as fighting continues over territory and resources between dissident FARC guerrillas, the ELN, paramilitary forces and drug cartels.