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DATE=4/19/99 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT NUMBER=2-248327 TITLE=COLOMBIA REBELS (L ONLY) BYLINE=GEORGE MEEK DATELINE=RIO DE JANEIRO CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: COLOMBIA IS PREPARING TO RESUME PRELIMINARY PEACE TALKS ON TUESDAY WITH THE COUNTRY'S LARGEST REBEL GROUP, THE REVOLUTIONARY ARMED FORCES, KNOWN AS FARC FROM ITS SPANISH INITIALS. CORRESPONDENT GEORGE MEEK IN OUR SOUTH AMERICA BUREAU REPORTS THERE IS A CLIMATE OF INCREASED TENSION. TEXT: FARC BROKE OFF PRELIMINARY TALKS WITH THE COLOMBIAN GOVERNMENT THREE MONTHS AGO, ACCUSING IT OF FAILING TO CONTROL RIGHTIST PARAMILITARY DEATH SQUADS THAT KILL PEASANTS ACCUSED OF AIDING THE REBELS. THE GOVERNMENT HAS DISMISSED GENERALS WITH ALLEGED LINKS TO THE DEATH SQUADS, AND HAS CAPTURED SCORES OF ALLEGED MEMBERS OF THE GROUPS. HOWEVER, THE PARAMILITARY THREAT HAS NOT DIMINISHED. THE DEATH SQUADS HAVE CIRCULATED THREATENING LEAFLETS AND PAINTED SLOGANS IN TOWNS NEAR THE DEMILITARIZED AREA WHERE THE TALKS WITH THE REBELS ARE TO TAKE PLACE. GOVERNMENT TROOPS HAVE STRENGTHENED SECURITY ON THE ACCESS ROUTES. THE TALKS WITH FARC ARE TO RESUME IN THE TOWN OF SAN VICENTE DELCAGUAN, IN A COCA-GROWING AREA OF THE JUNGLE IN THE SOUTHERN PART OF COLOMBIA. PRESIDENT ANDRES PASTRANA SAYS THAT THE DEMILITARIZATION OF THE AREA, WHICH IS SET TO EXPIRE ON MAY SEVENTH, WILL BE EXTENDED FOR AN ADDITIONAL PERIOD IF FARC AGREES TO PARTICIPATE IN A DEFINITIVE PEACE DIALOGUE. GOVERNMENT PEACE NEGOTIATOR VICTOR RICARDO IS CONFIDENT THAT THE TWO SIDES WILL AGREE ON AN AGENDA FOR FUTURE TALKS. HOWEVER, THE REBELS HAVE NOT INDICATED WHETHER THEY ARE SATISFIED WITH THE GOVERNMENT'S EFFORTS TO CONTROL THE DEATH SQUADS. (SIGNED) NEB/GM/PHW/PT 19-Apr-99 5:30 PM EDT (2130 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .





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