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Uribe ready to negotiate with Colombian rebels

            Uribe ready to negotiate with Colombian rebels.
             Thursday, April 24, 2003 Posted: 3:31 PM EDT (1931 GMT).
             BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) -- The Colombian government is ready to negotiate with members of the country's largest rebel group who sincerely want to end the nation's 38-year civil war, President Alvaro Uribe said Thursday. .
             "There is a sector that is more inclined to violence and terrorism, and another sector more inclined to a political solution," Uribe said in an interview with Caracol Radio. .
             However, Uribe did not say how big the faction that allegedly wants to discuss peace is. .
             The government has had written contact with the faction of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, and will continue to pursue negotiations "so that this thin beacon that has been turned on can become a strong light for peace," Uribe said. .
             He reiterated that the primary condition for beginning formal peace talks is that the FARC must commit to a cease-fire. .
             One of the key issues in any future negotiations would be the dozens of political hostages the rebels are holding in the hopes of trading them for jailed rebels. Uribe has suggested that freed rebels in such an exchange could be sent to a different country _ perhaps France. .
             France's ambassador said Thursday his country was studying the proposal. .
             "We are ready to continue helping, and contemplate all of the options," Daniel Parfait said at a human rights forum in Bogota. .
             The 16,000-strong FARC and a smaller rebel group have been fighting for almost four decades against a succession of elected governments in this South American country. .

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