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Colombian President Willing to Hold Talks with Rebels


Colombian President Alvaro Uribe says he is willing to meet with the nation's largest rebel group to hold peace talks to end the country's 42-year civil war.

Mr. Uribe made the statement Tuesday, in the latest in a series of developments between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, FARC. He also has said recently he would be willing to hold a convention to draw up a new constitution, which is one of the rebels' demands.

Monday, FARC proposed terms for a prisoner swap with the government. The rebel group proposed the government temporarily withdraw troops from an 800 square kilometer area where talks on a prisoner exchange would take place.

FARC also has demanded a guarantee that Bogota will free hundreds of jailed rebels in return for the release of more than 60 prisoners held by the guerrillas.

The prisoners include a former Colombian presidential candidate and three American citizens.

President Uribe instructed his government Monday to negotiate with the rebels on setting up a demilitarized zone.

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