The Americas

Colombia leader says peace talks to start with rebel group

  • Juan Manuel Santos, President of the Republic of Colombia, right, receives the global statesman award by German Klaus Schwab, left, founder and president of the World Economic Forum, in the Congress Hall at the 47th annual meeting of the World Economic Forum, WEF, in Davos, Switzerland, Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017. (Gian Ehrenzeller/Keystone via AP)

    Juan Manuel Santos, President of the Republic of Colombia, right, receives the global statesman award by German Klaus Schwab, left, founder and president of the World Economic Forum, in the Congress Hall at the 47th annual meeting of the World Economic Forum, WEF, in Davos, Switzerland, Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017. (Gian Ehrenzeller/Keystone via AP)  (The Associated Press)

  • Colombian government representative Juan Camilo Restrepo, left, and rebel representative Pablo Beltran, of the National Liberation Army (ELN), shake hands at the end of a joint press conference in Quito, Ecuador, Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017. Colombia's second-largest rebel group has agreed to free a prominent politician that it has held captive for almost a year, clearing the way for repeatedly postponed peace talks to begin next month. (AP Photo/Dolores Ochoa)

    Colombian government representative Juan Camilo Restrepo, left, and rebel representative Pablo Beltran, of the National Liberation Army (ELN), shake hands at the end of a joint press conference in Quito, Ecuador, Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017. Colombia's second-largest rebel group has agreed to free a prominent politician that it has held captive for almost a year, clearing the way for repeatedly postponed peace talks to begin next month. (AP Photo/Dolores Ochoa)  (The Associated Press)

  • Ecuador's Foreign Minister Guillaume Long, right, points the way to Colombian government representative Juan Camilo Restrepo, center, and rebel representative Pablo Beltran, of the National Liberation Army (ELN), left, for a joint press conference in Quito, Ecuador, Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017. Colombia's second-largest rebel group has agreed to free a prominent politician that it has held captive for almost a year, clearing the way for repeatedly postponed peace talks to begin next month. (AP Photo/Dolores Ochoa)

    Ecuador's Foreign Minister Guillaume Long, right, points the way to Colombian government representative Juan Camilo Restrepo, center, and rebel representative Pablo Beltran, of the National Liberation Army (ELN), left, for a joint press conference in Quito, Ecuador, Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017. Colombia's second-largest rebel group has agreed to free a prominent politician that it has held captive for almost a year, clearing the way for repeatedly postponed peace talks to begin next month. (AP Photo/Dolores Ochoa)  (The Associated Press)

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos says rebels belonging to the National Liberation Army have agreed to free a captive politician, clearing the way for formal peace talks with the country's second-largest rebel group to begin next month.

Santos made the announcement from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. He said details of the agreement would be announced by representatives of the government and rebels at a press conference later Wednesday in Quito, Ecuador.

The government and the ELN have been holding exploratory peace talks for more than three years. Almost a year ago, the government announced formal negotiations would begin, but the start of talks has been held up by the rebels' refusal to meet Santos' demand they renounce kidnapping and free the politician.