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Colombia Offers Troop Withdrawal for Prisoner Exchange Talks

Colombia's government says it is prepared to withdraw military forces from around a small mountain town to negotiate with the country's largest Marxist rebel group about a possible deal to free dozens of hostages.

President Alvaro Uribe said Tuesday his government accepted the proposal by a commission comprising France, Spain and Switzerland. But there was no immediate word on whether the rebels, known as the FARC, has accepted.

The plan calls for the government to pull troops from a 180-kilometer radius surrounding El Retiro (in the southern province of Valle del Cauca) and for the area to be free of FARC rebels, except for guerrilla negotiators. It calls for the area to be demilitarized seven days before and after talks.

The FARC wants to exchange dozens of hostages - who include politicians, military personnel and three Americans - for imprisoned guerrillas.

Some information for this report provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.