GENEVA — El Salvador's government and leftist rebels met for U.N.-mediated peace talks Wednesday in a new effort to end their civil war, but disagreement quickly surfaced on the issue of a cease-fire.
Both sides and U.N. Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar agreed to seek a truce as an "initial objective" on the way to a negotiated settlement.
But Shafik Handal, chief delegate of the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front guerrillas, made plain his group links acceptance of a cease-fire to progress on political reforms.
The rightist, U.S.-backed government of President Alfredo Cristiani says suspension of fighting must take priority.
The two sides signed a U.N.-sponsored declaration committing them to seek a cease-fire and a definitive end to "the armed conflict through political means as speedily as possible."
The accord calls for promoting moves toward democracy and respect for human rights in El Salvador, and reintegrating the FMLN fighters into the nation's shattered society.
The talks then recessed until May. No date or location was announced for the next round.