Colombia's ELN rebels call for US to step up in peace talks

Colombia`s ELN rebels have called on the US to assume responsibility for a role in the Colombian armed conflict, as peace talks make new strides forward.

Bogota: Colombia`s ELN rebels have called on the US to assume responsibility for a role in the Colombian armed conflict, as peace talks make new strides forward.

The National Liberation Army, the country`s second-largest leftist rebel group, is in preliminary peace talks with Bogota over the Colombian conflict that has left 220,000 dead and displaced 5.3 million.

In a statement by leaders of the ELN published on its website dated Monday, the group said the US has helped set the course of the war for decades.

"Their Pentagon and CIA have been designers of low intensity war and state terrorism in our country that has claimed millions of victims," the group said in a statement.

Washington has worked closely with Bogota on intelligence and anti-drug trafficking operations as well as anti-insurgency efforts throughout the conflict, which has drawn in several leftist rebel groups, right-wing paramilitaries and drug traffickers at various times.

The ELN hailed the recent naming of US envoy Bernard Aronson to the peace talks. But it called for the country to not play the role of "innocent observer."

"It should be on the table as directly responsible for the war and its disaster, and it must make commitments to rebuild Colombia in peace," the statement said.

The FARC, the country`s largest rebel group, announced on Saturday they had made a new step toward peace after reaching a deal on demining.

Starting in 2012, the peace talks with the FARC have produced partial accords but have yet to yield a final deal. The group agreed to an indefinite, unilateral ceasefire in December.

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