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Pastrana, FARC leader to resume peace talks

  WEB EXCLUSIVE

From staff and wire reports

SAN VICENTE, Colombia (CNN) -- Colombian President Andres Pastrana and FARC leader Manuel Marulanda shook hands and hugged Friday afternoon after signing an initiative to reopen peace talks between the government and the rebels.

The agreement specifies that the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) "unfreezes the process of the peace talk negotiations," that talks will resume February 14, and that FARC will "not be opposed to projects to manually eradicate illegal crops," what might be a specific reference to "Plan Colombia," Pastrana's wide-ranging effort to stop the production of cocaine in Colombia.

"I believe today we revived the peace process," Pastrana said during a news conference immediately after the signing of the initiative.

  MESSAGE BOARD
 

The agreement, announced at a joint appearance in San Vicente, was signed by the two men after a representative for each read it aloud.

The agreement invites other Colombian groups to join the talks. Pastrana specified that the invitation was addressed to "everyone that has been part of the process, and those who have doubts of the process."

Pastrana surprised the nation last week when he demanded to see Marulanda as a condition for allowing the rebels to continue their control of a Switzerland-sized enclave "safe haven" that the Pastrana government had conceded to FARC in a bid to end the country's protracted civil war.

"After a joint evaluation of the process, we found the weaknesses and the strengths," Marulanda said. "We have solid basis upon which we can work."

"Both agree to continue with these talks," Marulanda added.

Pastrana flew into the rebel-held enclave on Thursday to meet with the 69-year-old guerilla leader but could reach no agreement with Marulanda after eight hours of talks.

After spending the night in San Vicente Thursday as what Pastrana called a "goodwill gesture," talks resumed Friday morning.


CNN Correspondent Harris Whitbeck and Reuters contributed to this report.



RELATED STORIES:
Colombian rebels, government to resume peace talks
February 9, 2001
Colombian rebels put on military show ahead of summit
February 8, 2001
Colombian rebels reject Pastrana's bid to restart peace talks
January 22, 2001

RELATED SITES:
Presidency of Colombia
Colombia General Information
U.S. Support for Plan Colombia

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