- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 15, 2009

CARACAS, VENEZUELA (AP) - President Hugo Chavez is urging Colombia’s largest rebel group to agree to a proposed cease-fire with the U.S.-backed government of Alvaro Uribe.

During a Tuesday meeting with Uribe, Chavez called on leaders of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, to temporarily halt their activities as a goodwill gesture.

“I think it’s fair and necessary that the FARC … take note of what Uribe has said: Cease your activities for four months,” he said. “Hopefully peace will be achieved in Colombia sooner than later.”

Uribe said earlier this month that his government would be willing to begin exploratory talks with the FARC if they were to go four months “without a single terrorist action.”

U.S. officials have long said the FARC use Venezuelan territory for refuge, to treat its wounded, to regroup and rearm _ and to export cocaine. In September, Washington accused three security officials in Chavez’s inner circle of aiding the FARC by supplying it with arms and drug-trafficking assistance.

Chavez denies supporting the rebels, but Colombia says documents found in a laptop belonging to a top FARC leader slain in March 2008 indicate he was preparing to give them an open-ended loan of several hundred million dollars.

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