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Friday, July 10, 1998 Published at 14:25 GMT 15:25 UK

World: Americas

Colombian president-elect meets rebels

Pastrana meets rebel leader Marulanda

The President-elect of Colombia, Andres Pastrana, has held face-to-face talks with leaders of the country's biggest guerrilla group.

It is the first time in almost 10 years that a Colombian head of state has met the left-wing rebels to try to end four decades of armed conflict.

At a news conference on Thursday, Mr Pastrana played a short video of himself with Manuel Marulanda, the leader of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia [FARC] .

Mr Pastrana - who was elected last month and takes office on August 7 - said an agreement had been reached to begin peace talks in the next four months.

The BBC South America correspondent says the meeting fulfils an election pledge by Mr Pastrana, who vowed to make peace a priority.

News of the meeting comes as Colombian civic leaders prepare to meet representatives of the second-largest rebel group, the National Liberation Army, on Sunday.

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