Switzerland pledges to keep working for Betancourt’s release
Failure of the international mission does not spell the end of Switzerland’s efforts.11 April 2008
GENEVA - Switzerland will continue its efforts to help secure the release of prominent Franco-Colombian hostage Ingrid Betancourt despite recent setbacks, a top foreign ministry official said Wednesday.
Switzerland, along with France and Spain, had sent a medical mission to Colombia in the hope that Betancourt, a former Colombian presidential candidate held by left-wing FARC guerrillas since 2002, would soon be released.
However, the mission was called off earlier this week after the FARC rejected it.
"We knew it was far from sure the mission would be a success, but if you never take risks, you never get anything," said Thomas Greminger, head of the "human security" department of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs.
"We will continue our commitment and look for possibilities to revive the process to arrive at a humanitarian accord," he added.
FARC guerrillas snatched the 46-year-old Betancourt in February 2002 as she campaigned for the Colombian presidency.
She is the most high-profile of 39 "political" hostages the FARC is holding in hopes of exchanging for 500 of its own members in Colombian and US jails.
In all, the leftist rebel group is believed to be holding some 700 people.
It uses kidnapping and drug trafficking to finance its four-decade-old insurgency, and is seeking a demilitarised zone as a prelude to prisoner-swap talks with the government.
[AFP / Expatica]