Colombia Praying for Peace Agreement

Negotiations Under Way Between President and FARC

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BOGOTA, Colombia, FEB. 9, 2001 ( Colombia held a Day of Prayer for Peace, in support of the historic meeting between President Andrés Pastrana and rebel-forces leader Manuel Marulanda.

Archbishop Pedro Rubiano Saenz of Bogota was one of the day-of-prayer promoters.

The country´s president, who came to office in 1998, and the commander of the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC) met for seven hours Thursday. Observers are hoping for concrete gestures to reduce the growing violence in Colombia.

Pastrana decided to stay overnight in the demilitarized zone to continue the negotiations today. He stayed at the site of the former San Vicente del Caguan military base, located about 185 miles south of Bogota.

Analyzing the results of the Thursday meeting, FARC commander Marulanda said today: “we were a bit discouraged, but we are now re-encouraged.” Marulanda said the new phase of talks would address the subject of the exchange of 500 kidnapped uniformed men for imprisoned rebels. Talks are also expected on continuing the 42,000-square-kilometer demilitarized zone, which was given to FARC two years ago to facilitate the peace process.

The septuagenarian commander said he hoped there would be “white smoke” today as a result of his meeting with the president.

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