Chavez 'certain' Columbian hostage Betancourt is alive

19th November 2007, Comments 0 comments

19 November 2007, RIYADH - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said on Sunday that he was "certain" that Franco-Colombian politician Ingrid Betancourt, who was taken hostage in Columbia in 2002, was still alive.

19 November 2007

RIYADH - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said on Sunday that he was "certain" that Franco-Colombian politician Ingrid Betancourt, who was taken hostage in Columbia in 2002, was still alive.

"I am certain that Ingrid is alive," he said on the sidelines of a summit of OPEC oil-exporting countries, adding however that he did not have "any material proof."

Chavez, who is acting as mediator in efforts to release hostages held by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), is to meet French President Nicholas Sarkozy on November 20.

"I got a message yesterday from Marulunda asking me to believe his word (that she is alive) and that it be passed on to President Sarkozy," he said, referring to FARC rebel leader Manuel Marulanda.

"I want to believe Marulunda," he said.

He had said before leaving Caracas that he wanted to bring proof that she was alive to Sarkozy, who has taken a personal interest in the case.

Reacting to the announcement, Betancourt's husband, Juan Carlos Leconte, said Chavez's declarations "strengthen the idea that this proof exists and is in the process of coming in," Leconte told reporters in Paris.

Betancourt, a Colombian senator, was captured by the FARC in 2002 while she was campaigning for a presidential election.

AFP

Subject: French news

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