The Colombian president is seeking help from his French counterpart in a fresh attempt to free scores of hostages held by FARC guerrillas. Greeted by Nicolas Sarkozy, Alvaro Uribe says he is open to dialogue with the rebels after Colombia’s Catholic Church offered a safe haven for talks.
Uribe wants to enlist support from France, Spain and Switzerland over negotiations to release dozens of captives, including French-Colombian Ingrid Betancourt, in exchange for hundreds of jailed rebels.
Shocked at her recent appearence, Betancourt’s family has stepped up efforts to secure her release.
Hopes for the captives were raised by the liberation of two hostages, Clara Rojas and Conseula Gonzalez, earlier this month, in a deal brokered by the Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.
But Chavez’s services as a mediator are unlikely to be taken up again as he is seen as too sympathetic to the left-wing FARC, who he said should be taken off terrorist lists.