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Friday, 19 November, 1999, 23:40 GMT
Colombian president lambasts rebels



Was Colombia fighting The Colombian president, Andres Pastrana, has strongly criticised this week's offensive by the country's largest rebel group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, and said it showed the guerrillas were not interested in pursuing a peace agreement.

Mr Pastrana said that the security forces had killed a-hundred rebels and successfully repelled the offensive, which occurred over a number of days in remote areas of the country. Mr Pastrana said he would not allow the rebels to use a demilitarised zone in the south of the country to launch their attacks.

The rebels have refused to lay down their weapons until a settlement is finalised, but they responded to Mr Pastrana's comments by offering to pull out of the area, which was set up to facilitate peace talks. Correspondents say it's thought to be the harshest criticism Mr Pastrana has made since he began negotiations with the guerrillas ten months ago.

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