- The Washington Times - Friday, May 29, 2020

The Colombian rebel group National Liberation Army (ELN) on Friday said they would be willing to participate in a three-month global cease-fire in an effort to reduce the spread of coronavirus.

Discussions for the cease-fire have been ongoing at the United Nations since March 23, when Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on militant groups to temporarily end ongoing conflicts to turn attention to combatting COVID-19 in high-risk countries.

“We are informed of that process. We’re studying it and of course we would look favorably on that happening and that this time the Colombian government does implement it,” Pablo Beltran, the head of ELN’s negotiating team, told Reuters.

He said he hopes Colombian President Ivan Duque would also support the cease-fire and said the “leadership in Colombia would responsibly take up the call.”

In March, the rebel group unilaterally declared a one-month cease-fire that began April 1 as a “humanitarian gesture” amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The U.N. Security Council has taken up a resolution to launch the worldwide cease-fire, but the band of 15 nations has failed to agree on specific language regarding the World Health Organization.

Colombia has reported 25,406 confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker, at least 855 have died and 6,687 have recovered. The ELN has maintained that none of its members have contracted the virus.

• Lauren Toms can be reached at lmeier@washingtontimes.com.

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