August 1, 1999

Church urges El Salvador and former paramilitaries to reach pay settlement

                  SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador (AP) -- San Salvador's Roman Catholic
                  archbishop urged a settlement Sunday between the government and
                  thousands of former paramilitary fighters demanding payment for helping
                  battle leftist rebels in the 1979-92 civil war.

                  Representatives of some 25,000 former fighters have threatened to launch a
                  wave of protests if Congress refuses to grant them payments of money and
                  land. Talks between the two sides are to begin Aug. 10.

                  "I make a call for a true dialogue and that ... the two sides do whatever
                  possible to resolve the conflict," Archbishop Fernando Saenz told reporters.

                  The former fighters "suffered, worked and merit true recognition," Saenz
                  said, adding that "the peace and tranquility of civil life" was at stake.

                  Since 1993 the ex-fighters -- mostly small-scale farmers and farmworkers --
                  have demanded they be paid at least $2,000 each and given land for helping
                  the fight the rebels. The 1992 peace accord that ended the war outlined
                  payments for regular soldiers but not the paramilitary forces.