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LIBERIAN GOVERNMENT, REBELS BEGIN TALKS

Liberian government officials and rebel leaders began talks to end a six-month old civil war Tuesday with both sides rejecting the other's conditions for a cease-fire, diplomats said.

A four-man delegation representing the National Patriotic Front rebels, who arrived in Freetown Tuesday, repeated their stand that a cease-fire would be possible only if President Samuel Doe and his government resign first.A Liberian government spokesman made it clear Monday that Doe would not step down, claiming such a move would leave the country without leadership.

The two sides met Tuesday for the first time, choosing neighboring Sierra Leone as a neutral site for the talks.

Troops loyal to rebel leader Charles Taylor, a former minister in Doe's government, have reportedly pushed to within 40 miles of the Liberian capital of Monrovia in their quest to oust Doe, who took power in a military coup 10 years ago and has faced charges of human rights abuses since then.