Sarkozy and Chavez discuss bid to free hostage Betancourt

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Sarkozy and Chavez discuss bid to free hostage Betancourt

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The fate of a French-Colombian hostage has been at the centre of talks between Nicolas Sarkozy and Hugo Chavez.

The Venezuelan president had hoped to bring his French counterpart proof that kidnapped politician Ingrid Betancourt is still alive.

She is being held by Colombian Marxist rebels. Chavez is trying to negotiate her release.

In fact, he arrived in Paris empty-handed but expressed optimism about the chances for her liberation. He also said FARC rebels have pledged to provide evidence that she is alive by the end of the year.

Colombia meanwhile has set a year-end deadline for Chavez’s mediation efforts.

For Betancourt’s daughter Melanie, the ball is now in FARC’s court.

“President Chavez assures us that my mother is alive,” she said.
“He is sure of that but now we still need proof of life because it is an essential element for things to advance in the negotiations.”

The rebels have previously released video pictures of Betancourt but there has been nothing for four years. She was campaigning for Colombia’s presidential election in 2002 when she was seized, along with an aide.