Chavez pledges all-out effort at hostage release
President Hugo Chavez promised Sarkozy he will try his best to get Colombia's FARC rebels to release their hostages.15 May 2008
CARACAS - President Hugo Chavez said Wednesday he promised French President Nicolas Sarkozy an all-out effort in getting Colombia's FARC rebels to release their hostages, including French-Colombian politician Ingrid Betancourt.
"I told him: in spite of everything, I'll continue doing all that's possible not only to get Ingrid Betancourt released, but also all the people the FARC is holding in the Colombian jungle," Chavez said about a telephone discussion he had with Sarkozy.
Earlier this year, Chavez's mediation with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia yielded six hostage releases. But a Colombian attack on a FARC camp inside Ecuador in March that killed the group's deputy leader has stymied further efforts and closed off all contacts with the rebels, Chavez admitted recently.
Sarkozy has been pressing both Chavez and Colombian President Alvaro Uribe to work harder at getting Betancourt's release, amid reports that after six years in captivity the 46-year-old mother of two was seriously ill.
Betancourt and three Americans are among 39 key hostages the FARC wants exchanged for 500 of their jailed fellow guerrillas.
"We'll keep trying to contact FARC to resume the path to freedom (for the hostages), a humanitarian agreement and to peace in Colombia," Chavez told reporters during a visit to oil industry facilities in southeastern Orinoco.
[AFP / Expatica]