Betancourt may be better than feared
Ingrid Betancourt, the Franco-Colombian politician held by Colombian rebels, may be in better health than previously feared.
PARIS, April 8, 2008 - Ingrid Betancourt, the Franco-Colombian politician held by Colombian rebels, may be in better health than previously feared, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said Monday.
Kouchner told France's LCI channel that Betancourt's health "must be worse,
of course, but we have the feeling, not only that she is alive but that she is
better than we had said."
French President Nicolas Sarkozy had suggested that Betancourt was close to
death in an appeal last week to the leadership of the FARC rebels holding her.
Kouchner did not give his source for this latest information and admitted
that he could be wrong.
A French governmentjet with two doctors on board would remain on standby at
the military base in the Colombian capital, where it has been since Thursday,
a foreign ministry spokesman said.
Kouchner insisted they were still waiting for word from the FARC leadership
and that there was no question of abandoning the mission, a position confirmed
in a statement from Sarkozy's office.
Betancourt's plight was high on the agenda when the president met Monday
with Argentine President Cristina Kirchner for a working lunch, said a
spokesman for the president.
"They discussed the situation of the hostages in Colombia including
Betancourt, at length..." he said.
Sarkozy thanked Kirchner for the active role Argentina was playing trying
to resolved the crisis, the spokesman added. The two leaders also discussed
deeper trade links.
On Sunday Kirchner joined Kouchner, French First Lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy
and thousands of others in a march in Paris to press for Betancourt's release,
one of several across France.
Betancourt was snatched in February 2002 as she campaigned for the
She is one of 39 high-profile hostages, including three US defence
contractors, whom the FARC wants to exchange for 500 rebels held in Colombian
and US prisons.