Two Colombian soldiers captured by FARC rebels earlier this month have been released by the armed group.
Paulo Rivera and Jonathan Diaz were taken during clashes on November 8 near the town of Tame, Arauca on the border with Venezuela.
The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) announced last week that it would release the two men, along with General Ruben Alzate, a soldier and a female lawyer who were taken by the group on November 16 in the jungle region of Choco.
It was still unclear when the release of the general and the two other captives would take place.
President Juan Manuel Santos, meeting regional leaders in the southern jungles of Putumayo, hailed the latest developments as good for peace.
“This is an important step which shows the maturity of the peace process and the gestures of peace all Colombians demand,” he said after Tuesday’s releases and the promises of more.
The government, which had suspended peace talks as a result of the general’s capture, has said negotiations will restart when all five have been freed.
Step in the right direction
Al Jazeera’s Alessandro Rampietti, reporting from Bogota, said the release of the soldiers was a “step in the right direction” for peace talks to restart.
“The men are now safe and well in the military battalion. The release went flawlessly.
“On the other hand, we still haven’t received any updates on the release of the general. FARC says there are still too many military operations going on in the area for the release.”
Rodrigo Londono, the chief commander of FARC, has accused the government of “destroying confidence” in the country’s peace process with its decision to the suspend the talks which have been taking place in Havana, Cuba.
Londono, better known by his alias Timochenko, also said in a statement on Monday that the government is jeopardising an agreement to free Alzate by refusing to halt military operations in the area in western Colombia where the group was captured, the AP news agency reported.
“The president, by suspending talks, toppled the chess board where the match was being played,” Timochenko said in a statement dated November 22 but published on Monday on the website belonging to FARC.
“Things can’t resume just like that. A number of things need to be considered.”
Riveria and Diaz were being taken by the ICRC on Tuesday to a military base in Tame, Arauca.