Two Salvadorean sides hold talks

Salvadorean leftist guerrillas held their first direct talks with officials of the El Salvador government in Bogota, Colombia, on Monday. Guerrilla representative Oscar Bonilla described his two-hour meeting with government representatives as a ''preliminary dialogue'' with the US-backed El Salvador government's peace commission, which seeks the rebels' participation in national elections next year.

The meeting was held as US envoy Richard Stone and President Alvaro Magana had talks in San Salvador. Costa Rican official sources said Stone was due to meet Ruben Zamora, a leader of the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front, the umbrella group of five guerrilla organizations involved in El Salvador's four-year civil war later on Tuesday.

The guerrillas want a transitional government that includes leftists. But both US and Salvadorean officials have ruled out any power sharing before the elections tentatively scheduled for early next year.

Stone met the El Salvador President as fierce fighting raged between the guerrillas and government forces on the slopes of the Guazapa volcano, 20 miles north of San Salvador. The fighting was said to be the most intense for several weeks.

of 5 stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read 5 of 5 free stories

Only $1 for your first month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.