EU welcomes release of hostages by Colombian rebels

February 28th, 2008 - 11:36 pm ICT by admin  

Brussels, Feb 28 (Xinhua) European Union’s (EU) External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner Thursday welcomed the release of four hostages by the leftist insurgent group Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). “I am glad to hear that the FARC has handed over to the Venezuelan government four Colombian former members of parliament who were held hostages for more than six years and are ill,” Ferrero-Waldner said in a statement.

“This was a humanitarian need,” she said. “This liberation could be an encouraging step but we expect the immediate and unconditional liberation of all hostages, including Ingrid Betancourt.”

The commissioner voiced the EU’s support for, and solidarity with, the Colombian government in their commitment to a negotiated, peaceful and lasting solution to the process.

The FARC turned over the four hostages in a jungle clearing Wednesday to representatives of Venezuelan envoys and the Red Cross. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has been mediating the release of the hostages.

The four former legislators - Luis Perez, Orlando Beltran, Eduardo Gechem and Gloria Polanco - were among the 43 hostages held by the group which intends to swap some 500 FARC rebels in Colombian jails.

The most prominent of the hostages is former presidential candidate Betancourt who holds dual French-Colombian citizenship.

On Jan 10, FARC released two Colombian hostages, Clara Rojas and Consuelo Gonzalez, as a goodwill gesture to Chavez.

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