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Author`s name Alex Naumov

Colombia’s President tries to revive peace talks

Alvaro Uribe came up with a new series of proposals Tuesday in order to continue the dialogue between the government and the National Liberation Army (ELN).

Colombian President does not give up. A few hours after the country’s largest rebel group, the FARC, rejected a proposal to exchange prisoners for hostages, Alvaro Uribe met with the National Council of Peace (CNP) on Tuesday to discuss a new plan for peace talks.

Now, he proposed the National Liberation Army (ELN) to relocate its members abroad to ensure they cease illegal activities. The proposal came as local courts continue investigations on alleged support of Uribe’s collaborators to far-right paramilitary groups.

Uribe also proposed the formation an international commission to verify the end of the conflict. CNP commissioner Luis Carlos Restrepo will present Uribe's proposal to the ELN at the next peace meetings, to be held in Havana the last week of August.

The president made this proposal when he opened a session of the World Peace Council, in which several alternatives to overcome the difficulties to the peace dialogue were analyzed. He proposed to the guerrilla group that if its decision is to cease hostilities, it would not need to tell the government where its men are, and will have the chance to give that kind of information in secrecy to an international organization.

Earlier this week, the FARC sent a letter to the father of a hostage they have held for a decade explaining why they rejected the latest government proposal to free the hostages.

In a letter to Gustavo Moncayo, who became a national figure after walking across half of Colombia to draw attention to the plight of his son and other hostages, the nation's largest guerrilla group said that President Alvaro Uribe's plan to hold conclusive peace talks in 90 days underestimated the size of the problem.

"The three months outlined by President Uribe will only allow for preliminary exchanges of opinions between the different parties," said the statement, which was signed by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia's Central Command. The letter was dated Aug. 8 but was published on the rebels' Web site on Monday.

Hundreds of hostages are held by the FARC. The rebels are also holding 45 prominent hostages, including former presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt and three U.S. defense contractors, who they say they will free in exchange for the release or all imprisoned guerrillas and a temporary demilitarized zone.

Hernan Etchaleco

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