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France: Sarkozy phones Venezuela's Chavez about Betancourt and other Colombian hostages

France: Sarkozy phones Venezuela's Chavez about Betancourt and other Colombian hostages

The French president expressed support Thursday to Venezuelan counterpart Hugo Chavez for his efforts to win the release of French-Colombian activist Ingrid Betancourt and other hostages held by rebels in Colombia.
Nicolas Sarkozy called the Venezuelan president, who has taken a mediator role in Colombia's hostage standoff with the FARC rebels, to say he wanted to join his effort with Colombian President Alvaro Uribe.
Sarkozy and Chavez agreed during the conversation "to stay in the closest contact possible," according to David Martinon, a spokesman for the French leader.
Sarkozy was set to speak with Uribe later Thursday, Martinon said. Chavez was heading to neighboring Colombia on Friday to discuss how he might facilitate an exchange of imprisoned rebels for hostages.
Sarkozy offered his "full support" to Chavez's initiative, said Martinon.
Betancourt, a former presidential candidate in Colombia, was kidnapped in 2002 while campaigning in southern Colombia. She was last seen publicly in a video statement in 2003.
Sarkozy, who took office in May, has made freeing her a top foreign policy priority.
The leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, wants to exchange about 60 so-called political prisoners including Betancourt and three U.S. military contractors for hundreds of jailed rebels.


Updated : 2021-07-24 13:56 GMT+08:00