Paris is preparing an emotional welcome for recently-freed hostage Ingrid Betancourt, who is travelling to the city to thank France for its support during her captivity at the hands of Colombian rebels.
French President Nicholas Sarkozy was prominent in efforts to secure Betancourt’s release through negotiations with the FARC guerrillas.
But in the end it was a daring rescue operation by Colombian special forces that freed the French/Colombian politician and 14 other hostages. Posing as aid workers, the soldiers duped the rebels into letting their captives go.
Betancourt has spent the time since Wednesday’s dramatic events in the company of her children and other close family members and friends. She suffered from ill health while being held in the jungle and said it was only thoughts of her family that kept her going.
Betancourt’s daughter, Melanie, said of being reunited with her mother that it was the “most beautiful moment of her life.” Amid the celebrations, Betancourt’s rescue has stirred debate in France over whether President Sarkozy benefited politically from his involvement in the affair.