Columbia has given a cautious welcome to a surprise call by Venezuela’s President for FARC rebels to end their four-decade long conflict.
Hugo Chavez also urged the group’s new leader to release their many hostages. Chavez, whom Bogota has accused of financing the FARC, mediated the first major hostage handovers in years in January and February.
The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia hold many hostages, including about 40 high-profile captives. However, the group is believed to be at its lowest ebb for years, after Alfonso Cano replaced slain leader Manuel Marulanda in March.
Footage from last year showed an emaciated Betancourt in captivity in the jungle. This touched off a fresh push to free dozens of hostages, including the French-Colombian and three US defence contractors.