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DATE=7/10/98 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT NUMBER=2-235263 TITLE=COLOMBIA REBELS (L ONLY) BYLINE=GEORGE MEEK DATELINE=RIO DE JANEIRO CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: COLOMBIAN PRESIDENT-ELECT ANDRES PASTRANA HAS FULFILLED HIS CAMPAIGN PROMISE TO MEET PERSONALLY WITH LEFTIST GUERRILLA LEADERS BEFORE HIS INAUGURATION. CORRESPONDENT GEORGE MEEK IN OUR SOUTH AMERICA BUREAU REPORTS MR. PASTRANA IS THE FIRST COLOMBIAN LEADER TO DO THIS IN THE THREE-DECADE-OLD GUERRILLA WAR. TEXT: PRESIDENT-ELECT PASTRANA SAYS HE AND THE LEADERS OF THE REVOLUTIONARY ARMED FORCES -- KNOWN AS FARC -- AGREED TO BEGIN PEACE NEGOTIATIONS WITHIN THREE MONTHS AFTER HE TAKES OFFICE. // PASTRANA ACT WITH TRANSLATION // IN THE MEETING I PRESENTED THE INTEGRAL PEACE PROPOSAL THAT I HAD ANNOUNCED, AND THE DETERMINATION OF THE GOVERNMENT THAT I WILL HEAD AS OF AUGUST 7TH TO FIND THE RIGHT PATH TO BUILD A STABLE AND LASTING PEACE. // END ACT // WITH ASSISTANCE FROM THE RED CROSS, MR. PASTRANA MET AT AN UNDISCLOSED JUNGLE LOCATION ON THURSDAY WITH FARC LEADERS MANUEL MARULANDA AND JORGE BRICENO. BACK IN BOGOTA, MR. PASTRANA SHOWED REPORTERS A SHORT VIDEO OF HIM GREETING THE REBEL LEADERS AND SITTING AROUND A TABLE WITH THEM. THE PRESIDENT-ELECT DECLINED TO GIVE ADDITIONAL DETAILS OF HIS CONVERSATION, CITING THE NEED FOR DISCRETION. OUTGOING COLOMBIAN PRESIDENT ERNESTO SAMPER CALLED THE MEETING A VERY POSITIVE STEP THAT SHOWS THE PEACE PROCESS IS IRREVERSIBLE. THE ENCOUNTER WAS ALSO WELCOMED BY POLITICAL, RELIGIOUS, AND BUSINESS LEADERS, BUT SOME ANALYSTS CAUTIONED AGAINST FALSE OPTIMISM, SAYING THE PEACE PROCESS WILL BE LONG AND DIFFICULT. ON SUNDAY COLOMBIA'S SECOND LARGEST REBEL GROUP, THE NATIONAL LIBERATION ARMY, WILL BEGIN PRELIMINARY PEACE CONVERSATIONS IN GERMANY WITH A BROADLY BASED DELEGATION OF COLOMBIAN LEADERS. (SIGNED) NEB/GM/LTD/MMK 10-Jul-98 10:16 AM EDT (1416 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .





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