CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) _ Representatives of Colombia's government and its largest leftist rebel group met in the Venezuelan capital on Monday in preliminary talks about a possible cease-fire in the country's 36-year conflict.

The meeting proves ``roads to peace'' are opening up, government envoy Luis Guillermo Giraldo said after a one-hour meeting with senior commander Raul Reyes of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC.

Reyes, who has met in recent days with Colombian officials and intermediaries in Madrid and Havana, could not be reached for comment.

Both men will meet separately with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who has been using his credentials as a left-leaning politician to urge peace in Colombia's war with the rebels, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jose Vicente Rangel said.

``I think finally the peace process is advancing,'' Rangel added. ``I see very good will on both sides.''

FARC, which has about 15,000 fighters, is the larger of the two main guerrilla groups fighting since the 1960s in a conflict that has claimed more than 30,000 lives.

The Caracas meeting comes as Chavez faces accusations by his former intelligence chief, Jesus Urdaneta, of taking sides in the Colombian dispute.

On Friday, Urdaneta accused Chavez of ordering a former interior minister to funnel some $300,000 to the rebels. He said Chavez's Fifth Republic Movement sent arms to the rebels and accused the president of blocking a raid on a party office where investigators believed weapons were stored.

Chavez has denied the allegations.

Urdaneta left Chavez's government in January and is now an ally of Francisco Arias, Chavez's main opponent in an upcoming presidential election.