Colombian leader recalls peace negotiator in wake of ELN attacks

Santos also said the government was “always willing to extend the ceasefire” with the major rebel military group but that they had “inexplicably refused.”

The end of that conflict has been hailed internationally though it has also opened a new power struggle in remote areas previously controlled by FARC rebels and still occupied by ELN combatants.

Bell added that the government's willingness to reach a new cease-fire agreement requires demonstration of "unequivocal acts of peace".

After five decades of conflict between the Colombian state and various anti-government rebel groups, Santos brokered a peace agreement with the country's main Marxist rebel group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) - winning a Nobel Peace Prize in the process - but a deal with anotherrebel band, the National Liberation Army (ELN) remains elusive, and key elections are just months away.

At the council meeting, the United Nations envoy for Colombia, Jean Arnault, said the clamor for a suspension of military action by the ELN has been unanimous throughout the country, "notwithstanding the many imperfections of the cease-fire".

He said Wednesday's attacks occurred in "complex situations" of war and that the group maintained its intention to negotiate a new ceasefire. Inexplicably, the ELN refused.

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Nonetheless, he said, "we stand ready to do all we can in order to ensure that that cease-fire can continue".

The members of the Security Council echoed the Secretary-General's concern about increased insecurity in some of the areas affected by the conflict, welcomed the important efforts by the Government of Colombia to address these concerns, as well as steps to address other issues including access to land, and looked forward to their swift implementation. "We are peacemakers and peacebuilders".

"The next few months must be the opportunity to "turn the corner" as it were and establish what is still a fragile process on a more durable base", Arnault told the council.

United Nations spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Guterres will meet with Santos and other civilian and military officials from the government Saturday and will hold talks with leaders of the FARC, the Roman Catholic Church, civic groups and the United Nations mission. The secretary-general is scheduled to travel to Meta, in central Colombia, to visit a site set up to help FARC rebels reintegrate.

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