SAN CRISTOBAL DE LAS CASAS, Mexico (AP) _ Zapatista rebels in the southern state of Chiapas on Friday called off talks with congressional mediators, saying military maneuvers near the meeting site made it unsafe.

The panel had planned to meet the rebels this weekend in La Realidad, a hamlet where Zapatistas have made several appearances.

``Military columns have impeded the leadership of the Zapatista National Liberation Army to come near the town,'' Zapatista leader Subcomandante Marcos said in a written statement.

He suggested the legislators instead meet the rebels on Nov. 20 and 22 in San Cristobal de las Casas.

The Zapatista rebels rose briefly in arms in 1994, demanding democracy and better conditions for the impoverished indigenous population of Chiapas.

Peace talks between the government and the rebels have been stalled since 1996, when President Ernesto Zedillo's administration refused to honor a partial peace accord signed by government representatives.