As Ecuador grapples with the aftermath of the 7.8 earthquake that devastated coastal areas and over 600 aftershocks, President Rafael Correa has assured that the country is still up to the task of hosting peace talks between the Colombian government and ELN rebel army.
Updates: 7.8 Earthquake Hits Ecuador
“In principle there are no changes in the decisions, but if President (Juan Manuel) Santos decides to change the location, we are in the service of Colombia,” said Correa from Bahia, one of the areas hard-hard by Saturday’s earthquake, on Thursday evening, adding that Ecuador will accept whatever route Colombia opts to take.
Correa added that despite the major challenges of earthquake recovery, Ecuador has “full capacity” to host Colombia’s negotiations with the National Liberation Army, following the footsteps of how Cuba has hosted over three years of talks between the Santos government and the FARC.
“I have told (Santos) … to do what he thinks is best for Colombia, for peace,” Correa added.
The talks with the ELN come as negotiations with the FARC are nearing an end and a final peace deal is expected in the coming months.
Ecuador is under a state of exception with a state of emergency in six affected provinces after a powerful earthquake rocked particularly the northwest part of the country last Saturday.
According to the latest official figures, at least 587 people have been killed, 155 are missing, and over 8,000 were injured by the quake.