Mexican government wants talks with rebels

By: AP
By: AP

MEXICO CITY (AP) -- Mexico's government said Tuesday that it will accept talks with a leftist rebel group linked to a series of oil pipeline blasts last year, as long as the group refrains from any new attacks.

The People's Revolutionary Army on Monday proposed a cease-fire with the government as long as it stopped pursuing and investigating the rebels and their supporters.

Mexico's Interior Department responded that it is ready to hold talks with the small rebel group, but would not agree to halt investigations or prosecution of rebels.

"The start of talks does not mean that the government would abandon its constitutional duty to enforce the law," according to the government statement. "For that reason, investigations will not stop."

It also called on the rebels to "make a public commitment to definitively halt any radical actions of sabotage and violence."

In 2007, the group known as the EPR claimed responsibility for blasts at more than a half-dozen oil and natural gas ducts to demand the release of two of its members allegedly being held by the government.

The government has denied holding the two men, and said it was investigating their disappearance in the southern state of Oaxaca in early 2007.

Local media have suggested the Oaxaca state government, which was the target of leftist protests in 2006, may have been responsible for the men's disappearance. The state government has denied any involvement.

The EPR's message came in an open letter to a mediation committee of intellectuals. It was posted Monday on a Web site that has carried rebel statements in the past.

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