Sarkozy, new first lady meet hostage Betancourt's family

25th February 2008, Comments 0 comments

French President Nicolas Sarkozy and his new wife Carla Bruni met late Saturday with the family of Franco-Colombian politician Ingrid Betancourt

   PARIS, Feb 25, 2008 - French President Nicolas Sarkozy and his new
wife Carla Bruni met late Saturday with the family of Franco-Colombian
politician Ingrid Betancourt who was abducted by Colombian rebels six years
ago.
   The meeting at the Elysee presidential palace marked the first public
appearance by 40-year-old Bruni as the new first lady since her wedding to
Sarkozy on February 2.
   The couple sat down with Betancourt's ex-husband, her daughter and son, and
with former Colombian senator Consuelo Gonzalez, who was released last month
after more than six years in captivity by rebels from the Revolutionary Armed
Forces of Colombia (FARC).
   Gonzalez thanked Sarkozy for his efforts to win the release of the hostages
including 46-year-old Betancourt, who holds French and Colombian citizenships
and was kidnapped on February 23, 2002 while campaigning for the Colombian
presidency.
   "I asked President Sarkozy and his government to continue to help as they
have done until now in the search for a humanitarian solution so that all of
my friends who are still caught in this tragedy can quickly be reunited with
their families," said Gonzalez.
   Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner traveled to Venezuela and Colombia last
week to press for a deal between Bogota and the rebels to secure Betancourt's
release as well as that of dozens of others held by the guerrillas.
   Kouchner said Saturday in Paris that it was "urgent" to act for the release
of the hostages including those he described as being in a "fragile" state,
such as Betancourt.
   In November, Colombia released videos seized from rebels that for the first
time in years showed Betancourt sitting in the jungle, looking frail and gaunt.
   Betancourt's daughter Melanie said Sarkozy was strongly committed to
ensuring her mother's release and also praised Bruni.
   "She was very keen to listen and she had some very touching words for us,"
said Melanie Delloye.

AFP 

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