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AP Interview: Conservative challenger in Colombian race talks tough on rebels, Venezuela

Colombia Elections-1.jpg

Oscar Ivan Zuluaga, presidential candidate for the Democratic Center speaks during an interview with Associated Press in Bogota, Colombia, Tuesday, June 3, 2014. Zualuaga will face President Juan Manuel Santos, who is seeking a second four-year term as candidate of the Social Party of National Unity, in a presidential runoff on June 15. (AP Photo/Fernando Vergara) (The Associated Press)

The conservative challenger in Colombia's presidential runoff says he'll take a tougher line on Venezuela's socialist government, which he calls a "dictatorship."

And he says he has no plans to extend an olive branch to rebels engaged in peace talks with Colombia's government.

Polls say former Finance Minister Oscar Ivan Zuluaga is in a neck-and-neck race with incumbent Juan Manuel Santos ahead of the June 15 vote.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Zuluaga repeated a pledge that if elected he'll insist the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia declare a unilateral cease-fire as a condition to continue peace talks in Cuba.

He also criticized what he calls Santos' meek response to Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's arrest of opponents and deployment of troops to quash anti-government protests.