Colombia ready to talk with FARC rebels

A Colombian official said his government would only talk with the country's leftist rebels if they stop "terrorist activities" and declare a truce.

Hernan Sanin, Colombia's assistant defense minister, made the comments Wednesday in El Salvador, ahead of Salvadoran President Tony Saca's visit to Colombia next week. This Central American nation has offered to share its experience in making peace with leftist guerrillas following a 1980-1992 civil war.

"We have always been willing to talk with them," Sanin said of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, the largest and oldest of Colombia's rebel groups. "But they have demonstrated time after time that they have no intention of achieving a peace accord."

"If there is no real willingness for peace, a suspension of hostilities and terrorist activities, we are not going to sit down to talk with them," Sanin said.

In a surprise move Saturday, the FARC released two Colombian police hostages held for about five months.

The rebels use kidnappings as a source of income and to pressure the government in its struggle to establish a Marxist-style state.

The FARC has largely rejected peace entreaties, declaring as recently as January that it would never negotiate with the government of Colombian President Alvaro Uribe.

Colombia's civil war has raged for more than four decades, pitting the rebels against the government and right-wing paramilitary forces that have in the past operated with the tacit support of the armed forces, reports the AP.

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