Colombia’s ELN rebels hope to free hostage next week

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BOGOTA: Colombian rebel group ELN said Friday it hopes to free hostage ex-congressman Odin Sanchez next week, clearing the way to begin peace talks with the government. “We hope it will be in the coming week,” said Pablo Beltran, the chief peace negotiator for the National Liberation Army (ELN), in comments to Caracol Radio. He said a “humanitarian commission” including international mediators, government and rebel negotiators, and representatives of the Catholic Church had been set up to oversee Sanchez’s release. President Juan Manuel Santos’s government had been due to open peace talks with the ELN, Colombia’s second-largest rebel group, on October 27. But he called them off when the rebels failed to release Sanchez, which he had set as a pre-condition.

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