More nations, including the United States, have been invited to participate in the peace negotiations that have already started this week in Venezuela by the Colombian government and the left-wing National Liberation Army (ELN) rebel organization, Al Jazeera reported.

It was agreed between the 2 sides that Brazil, Chile, and Mexico will be invited to join Cuba, Norway, and Venezuela as so-called guarantor countries in talks to put an end to Colombia's long-running military conflict.

After the process was put on hold in 2019, the next round of negotiations began on Monday, Nov. 21, in the Venezuelan capital, Caracas.

The Colombian government and the ELN released a statement after a week of discussions claiming they had done so in "an environment of trust and optimism."

Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, and Spain were to be invited to participate in the talks as "accompanying countries," according to the negotiation teams. They also agreed to send a special envoy to the negotiating table and communicate with the US through diplomatic channels "to find out its willingness to participate in the process," according to a statement from Norway.

The talks took place this week as Colombia marked the six-year anniversary of a peace agreement that saw members of another rebel group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), lay down their weapons. However, some FARC dissidents rejected the agreement and re-armed.

Over the past few years, there has been an increase in violence in Colombia, particularly in areas of the nation that are ungoverned and where armed organizations engage in drug trafficking and other illegal enterprises.

After nearly six decades of violent conflict, which resulted in at least 450,000 deaths between 1985 and 2018, President Gustavo Petro has pledged to bring "total peace" to Colombia.

ELN's dissension within its ranks has partly hindered previous attempts at discussions.

Although ELN officials claim the group is united, it's not apparent how much power negotiators have overactive units. The negotiations between the ELN and the Juan Manuel Santos administration started in Ecuador in 2017 and eventually moved to Cuba. However, after the ELN destroyed a police school in Bogota in 2019, Santos's successor, Ivan Duque, canceled the negotiations.

On Nov. 25, Friday, Colombia and the ELN also agreed to resume humanitarian relief but did not offer details.

Colombia Peace Talks ELN Rep. Pic
Representation image. Flavia Carpio/Unsplash.

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