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Colombian President Agrees to Withdraw Troops for Hostage Negotiations


Colombian president Alvaro Uribe has agreed to withdraw troops from two towns in southern Colombia to negotiate a prisoner swap with the country's largest rebel group.

Mediator Alvaro Leyva told reporters Thursday Mr. Uribe agreed to a proposal to withdraw from the towns of Florida and Pradera to create a meeting point for negotiations. He did not say when the withdrawal would start.

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, also known as FARC, have proposed exchanging more than 50 key hostages for hundreds of FARC fighters held by the Colombian government. The FARC hostages include former presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt and three U.S. nationals.

Sunday, the rebels released video of 12 lawmakers they have been holding hostage since 2002.

Colombia has been mired in a 42-year civil war involving leftist rebels, government troops, and government-aligned paramilitaries. The conflict leaves thousands dead each year.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.

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