AP. 28 January 2002. U.N.: Colombia Inching Toward War.

UNITED NATIONS -- In an effort to end Colombia's 38-year civil war, a
U.N. mediator on Monday appealed to all sides to end attacks against
civilians as a first step toward a full cease-fire.

U.N. special envoy James LeMoyne spoke on his return from Colombia where
he played a key role in 11th-hour negotiations that led to an agreement
to seek a cease-fire by early April.

"We believe the parties need to reach a humanitarian accord as quickly
as possible to reduce the level of violence in the country against
civilians," LeMoyne said.

"The armed actors in Colombia have got to stop murdering and kidnapping
and displacing and massacring the Colombian people," he said. "The
civilians are by far the overwhelming victims of this conflict."

Roughly 3,500 people, most civilians, die every year in the war, which
pits the Revoluntionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, and a smaller
rebel army against an illegal right-wing paramilitary force and
government troops.

The paramilitaries have not been part of the talks because the
government doesn't recognize them.

But LeMoyne said he expected them to "make their presence felt" during
the cease-fire negotiations.

"One of the main issues that will be on the table these 11 weeks is the
paramilitaries," LeMoyne said.

The agreement also said talks aimed at ending violence by paramilitaries
would be part and parcel of the cease-fire negotiations, as would
discussions aimed at ending kidnappings by the rebels.

The rebels are estimated to have 16,000 combatants. There are as many as
12,000 paramilitaries.

[Note. 'Civilians' include cops.]

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Barry Stoller

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