Uribe Ready To Talk Cease Fire With Rebels

By Dialogo
April 01, 2009

President Alvaro Uribe Tuesday said he was ready to hold peace talks with the leftist FARC rebel group if they declare a cease fire that can be verified. "We believe in peace," Uribe told an anti-terrorism conference, "but we won't allow new tricks. "Peace has its demands. The moment a new process begins there must be a clear sign, a halt to all criminal activities by the groups who want to engage in the process, with verification," he said. The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia -- or FARC -- the country's oldest and strongest rebel group, has demanded a demilitarized zone for peace talks and a swap of 22 prominent hostages for hundreds of jailed rebels. On Sunday, the FARC dropped their demand after Uribe angrily refused to negotiate with them following a bloody rebel attack that killed 20 police and one soldier on the first anniversary of FARC founder Manuel Marulanda's death. Uribe Tuesday said ceasefire verification was paramount to the negotiating process. Without it, he said, "we risk talking peace in a language that obfuscate terrorism." He reiterated his government's resolve to fight terrorism "in an all out effort and in full respect of democratic values."
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