Colombia urges leftist guerrillas to free hostages

May 16th, 2008 - 2:31 pm ICT by admin  

Bogota, May 16 (Xinhua) Colombian President Alvaro Uribe has urged the country’s largest leftist guerrilla group to free former presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt and other hostages in its captivity ahead of an European Union-Latin American summit in Peru. “Hopefully, before the summit begins, the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) announce the release of Ingrid Betancourt and other captives,” Uribe told journalists at a press conference.

However, the government would keep the option of using military forces open, if they (FARC) do not release the hostages, he said.

Betancourt’s family fiercely opposed the use of military forces as it might lead the rebels to kill the hostages.

Betancourt was kidnapped in the south of Colombia in February 2002 when she was travelling to Caqueta province as part of her presidential campaign.

FARC has offered to swap 45 hostages, including politicians and soldiers, for the release of 500 guerrillas held in prison.

Uribe made the announcement before his trip to Peru to attend the fifth Latin American, Caribbean and European Union summit.

The summit will discuss global warming, poverty and a recent surge in world food prices, which has triggered violence in many countries.

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