International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement

Colombia ELN rebels agree to free captive, start peace talks

Colombia's second-largest rebel group has agreed to free a prominent politician held captive for almost a year, clearing the way for repeatedly postponed peace talks to begin next month.

The agreement worked out during months of backchannel talks with the National Liberation Army was announced at a news conference Wednesday in Quito, Ecuador.

The two sides have been holding exploratory peace talks for more than three years. Almost a year ago they announced the start of formal negotiations, but those talks were frozen before even getting off the ground over Santos' demand that the group renounce kidnapping and free the politician it has been holding for 10 months.