Colombian ELN rebels lift suspension on kidnapping

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BOGOTA (Reuters) -Colombian leftist rebel group the National Liberation Army (ELN) on Monday said it would lift its suspension on kidnapping because the government had failed to live up to agreements reached during peace talks.

The rebel group, which is negotiating with Colombia's government, said its decision was due to a delay in establishing a multi-donor fund to a peace process that would remove the ELN from the country's six decades of armed conflict.

The lifting of the suspension represents yet another challenge to peace talks between the ELN and the government of leftist President Gustavo Petro.

Although six rounds of talks have taken place since the end of 2022, crisis hit negotiations after the government's advanced meetings with one of the rebel group's fronts in the country's Narino province, which would have seen members of the faction handing over weapons and reintegrating into society.

The crisis led to the group in April deciding to freeze talks planned for that month.

"So far, the fund hasn't been established, the government shows little will to advance in this field," the ELN said in a statement.

"Given the above, the ELN terminates its offer to unilaterally suspend economic detentions," it said.

The fund was not agreed as an incentive for the ELN to end kidnapping, Colombia's government said in a statement, adding that delays were caused because of the rebel group's decision to call an extraordinary round of talks.

"We hope the ELN keeps its commitment to Colombian society and the international community to put an end to any form of kidnapping," the government's peace delegation said in the statement.

(Reporting by Luis Jaime Acosta; Writing by Oliver Griffin; Editing by Sonali Paul and Gerry Doyle)