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Colombia restores political status to ELN rebels

BOGOTA, Colombia (CNN) -- The Colombian government re-established political status to the nation's second-largest rebel group Friday, paving the way for peace talks to resume.

The designation of the National Liberation Army, ELN, had been rescinded in August after peace talks last broke down.

In Friday's announcement, the government also said it was revoking arrest warrants issued for leaders of the leftist organization.

As part of the deal, the ELN agreed to continue with a cease-fire beyond the current January 6 deadline.

With its political status re-established, the ELN and the government will begin preliminary peace talks aimed at bringing both sides back to the negotiating table.

President Andres Pastrana is also trying to negotiate a peace agreement with the largest rebel group in the country, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC.


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