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DATE=1/5/99 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT NUMBER=2-243803 TITLE=COLOMBIA TALKS (L ONLY) BYLINE=GEORGE MEEK DATELINE=RIO DE JANEIRO CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: COLOMBIA'S PEACE COMMISSIONER, VICTOR RICARDO, SAYS AN END TO THREE DECADES OF GUERRILLA WARFARE IS NOT JUST AROUND THE CORNER, DESPITE PLANS TO LAUNCH FORMAL TALKS WITH THE REBELS ON THURSDAY. WE HAVE DETAILS FROM V-O-A'S CORRESPONDENT GEORGE MEEK IN OUR SOUTH AMERICA BUREAU. TEXT: MR. RICARDO WARNS AGAINST RAISING FALSE HOPES ABOUT EARLY RESULTS FROM THE FIRST TALKS WITH THE REVOLUTIONARY ARMED FORCES OF COLOMBIA (FARC) IN SIX YEARS. BUT HE SAYS THE TALKS OFFES A GREAT OPPOSTUNITY THAT MUST NOT BE WASTED, BECAUSE THE PEOPLE WANT PEACE. HUNDREDS OF NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL OBSERVERS WILL BE ON HAND FOR THE OPENING OF THE DIALOGUE IN THE REMOTE JUNGLE TOWN OF SAN VICENTE DEL CAGUAN, 300 KILOMETERS SOUTH OF BOGOTA. THE ARMED FORCES HAVE TEMPORARILY WITHDRAWN FROM THIS REBEL-CONTROLLED TERRITORY WHERE THE MAJOR CROP IS COCA, THE RAW MATERIAL OF COCAINE. PRESIDENT ANDRES PASTRANA WILL ATTEND THE CEREMONY. IT IS LIKELY BUT NOT CONFIRMED THAT FARC LEADER MANUEL MARULANDA, ALIAS "SURE SHOT", WILL ALSO BE THERE. THE TWO MEN MET AT A SECRET LOCATION IN JULY, BEFORE PRESIDENT PASTRANA TOOK OFFICE. A VIDEO OF THE EVENT SHOWS HIM GIVING THE REBEL LEADER A COOL EMBRACE. THE PURPOSE OF THE DIALOGUE IS TO DEFINE THE AGENDA, TIMETABLE, AND MECHANISMS FOR PEACE TALKS. THE GUERRILLAS WANT POLITICAL, ECONOMIC, SOCIAL, AND AGRARIAN REFORM. THEY HAVE SAID THEY WILL CONTINUE FIGHTING WHILE THEY NEGOTIATE. FARC IS THE OLDEST AND LARGEST REBEL GROUP IN COLOMBIA. IT WAS FOUNDED IN 1964 AND HAS AN ESTIMATED 12-TO-15 THOUSAND ARMED GUERRILLAS. LAST YEAR IT INFLICTED HEAVY CASUALTIES ON GOVERNMENT TROOPS NEAR SAN VICENTE DE CAGUAN, AND IN OTHER AREAS. /// REST OPTIONAL /// THE OFFICIAL REBEL REPRESENTATIVES TO THE TALKS WILL BE RAUL REYES, FABIAN RAMIREZ, AND JOAQUIN GOMEZ. THE GOVERNMENT WILL BE REPRESENTED BY A BIPARTISAN DELEGATION COMPOSED OF CONGRESS PRESIDENT FABIO VALENCIA, BUSINESS LEADER NICANOR RESTREPO, ATLANTIC DEPARTMENT GOVERNOR RODOLFO ESPINOSA, AND FORMER FOREIGN MINISTER MARIA EMMA MEJIA. (SIGNED) NEB/GM/WDC/PT 05-Jan-99 3:46 PM EST (2046 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .





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