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Guatemalan Peace Talks to Resume

November 09, 1996|Times Wire Services

GUATEMALA CITY — Guatemala has agreed to resume peace talks with leftist rebels after the leader of a guerrilla group linked to a kidnapping agreed to step out of the negotiations.

The U.N.-sponsored talks, which had been running smoothly for months, were abruptly suspended Oct. 28 after rebel commander Rafael Augusto Valdizon was arrested on suspicion of kidnapping a member of an influential family.

Police briefly jailed Valdizon but let him go in return for the freeing of 86-year-old Olga Alvarado de Novella. President Alvaro Arzu promised Friday that the rebel leader will be prosecuted if he is rearrested.

Leaders of the rebel Organization of the People in Arms have admitted their "political responsibility" for the Aug. 25 abduction.

Group leader Gaspar Ilom said Thursday that the kidnapping had "dealt a large blow to the credibility of the peace process," and agreed to bow out of the talks.

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