US Marijuana Party

Friday, September 30, 2005

France asks Colombia permission to see rebels

BOGOTA, Colombia, Sept 29 (Reuters) - France has asked Colombia for permission to meet leftist rebels in order to seek the release of dual French-Colombian national Ingrid Betancourt, who was taken hostage while running for Colombia's presidency in 2002, a French emissary said on Thursday.

The request from French President Jacques Chirac came a week after Colombia protested to France over unauthorized talks between French representatives and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC.

"We want to continue acting, in coordination with the Colombian government," said French emissary Nicole Guedy in Bogota.

Betancourt, 43, was taken hostage by the FARC after ignoring military warnings and taking her campaign for a small left-wing party to a dangerous part of southern Colombia in February 2002.

She is now one of 63 hostages the FARC want to swap for guerrillas held in government jails. Other prisoners include politicians, soldiers, police officers and three Americans -- civilian U.S. Defense Department contractors captured when their light plane crashed on a mission to find drug crops in 2003.


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