Friday, July 22, 2005

French pressure FARC over Ingrid Betancourt

The French government, with the blessing of the Colombian authorities, has made contact with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc) rebels.
The French government wants to secure the release of Ingrid Betancourt, a French citizen and a former presidential candidate in Colombia.
Ms Betancourt was kidnapped more than three years ago and is one of 60 political hostages held by the rebels.
But no-one believes she will be released any time soon.
A French government official met Farc spokesman Raul Reyes in the Colombian jungle, after getting the okay from Colombia's President Alvaro Uribe.
The official is appealing for the release of Ms Betancourt, an extremely popular figure in France who was kidnapped as she campaigned for the Colombian presidency in February 2002.
She is one of 60 political hostages the Farc have kidnapped over the last seven years; among them, three US intelligence operatives.
The Farc has said the hostages will not be released until hundreds of their comrades currently serving prison sentences are set free.
President Uribe has ruled out any such exchange.
But he is glad to use the French government to pressure the guerrillas into making concessions.


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