President Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique and rebel leader Afonso Dhlakama sat down yesterday for their first face-to-face talks, in an effort to try to end one of Africa's bloodiest civil wars.

Foreign Minister Emilio Colombo of Italy officially opened the talks, which mediators hope will bring an end to the 16-year conflict in the southeast African nation.

The conflict between the leftist government and the right-wing rebels has left more than 600,000 dead, driven 1 million people into exile, and left half of the population of 15 million dependent on food aid.

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