French President Nicolas Sarkozy has called on his Colombian counterpart to reconsider ending Hugo Chavez’s attempts to negotiate the release of hostages held in Colombia. Supporters of French-Colombian kidnap victim Ingrid Betancourt expressed shock and dismay at Alvaro Uribe’s decision.
In Paris on Tuesday, Chavez hinted at progress in his efforts to mediate between the leftist rebels of the FARC and Colombia’s government. But Uribe ended his involvement after Chavez defied an order not to talk to Colombia’s military leaders. His decision was announced two days after he set Chavez a deadline of December 31 to strike a deal, seen by many commentators as unrealistic.
Kidnapped in 2002, Betancourt is one of dozens of hostages being held in the jungle by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. For their freedom, the FARC is demanding the release of all imprisoned rebels, who number about 500.