Left-wing Venezuela has agreed to be a guarantor of future peace talks between Colombia and its last guerrilla group, both countries said Tuesday night.
This is the latest move toward strong new ties that were severed until Gustavo Petro became the first leftist leader in Colombia to take power this month.
Colombia has asked the Venezuelan government of President Nicolas Maduro to guarantee talks with the National Liberation Army (ELN), the last active rebel group in a country torn by decades of conflict.
In a speech, Maduro said: “Of course we agree!”
It joins Chile and Cuba as guarantors of talks the Bogota government hopes to hold with the ELN.
Colombia and its main rebel group, the FARC, signed a historic peace deal in 2016 after decades of war.
Venezuela participated in this peace process, with Maduro first as foreign minister in the government of the late socialist icon Hugo Chavez, then as his successor from 2013.
“Peace in Colombia is peace in South America,” Maduro said on Tuesday.
Petro wants to resume talks with the ELN started by his conservative predecessor Ivan Duque. They broke up after a rebel attack in 2019 that left 22 dead.
Representatives of the Petro government and the ELN have already met in Havana.
Petro said there will soon be a meeting with the ELN in Venezuela, which Colombia’s military intelligence has said is home to senior ELN leaders.
After Petro took power in August, Colombia and Venezuela resumed diplomatic ties after three years of falling apart, sparked by Colombia’s recognition of opposition leader Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s interim president.