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Tuesday, 19 February, 2002, 21:37 GMT
Pastrana calls for ceasefire buffer zone

The Colombian President, Andres Pastrana, has called for the creation of a buffer zone between the army and the country's largest guerrilla group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

He told the National Peace Council that such a territorial disengagement was a necessary pre-condition for a successful ceasefire.

Mr Pastrana said the FARC also needed to take concrete actions towards peace if the country was to avoid what he called the holocaust of total war.

Negotiators have been given a deadline of 7 April for signing the first ceasefire agreement - seven weeks before presidential elections.

The independent presidential candidate, Alvaro Uribe, has already made clear that he intends to take a hard line in dealing with the rebels.

From the newsroom of the BBC World Service

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