Sarkozy welcomes release of Colombian rebel hostages

February 28th, 2008 - 11:30 pm ICT by admin  

Paris, Feb 28 (Xinhua) French President Nicolas Sarkozy has described the release of four long-held hostages by the Colombian leftist guerrilla group as a “positive sign”, the presidential palace announced Thursday. In a statement, presidential office spokesman David Martinon said that the head of state had expressed hope that “this move will soon be followed by the release of other hostages, including that of the Franco-Colombian hostage, Ingrid Betancourt”.

The International Committee of the Red Cross in Colombia Wednesday announced the release of four former Colombian parliamentarians, who had been held hostage by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebels for many years.

“After the release of Consuelo Gonzalez de Perdomo, which occurred in January, the president hopes that this new positive gesture will be followed by further releases soon,” said Martinon.

“Once again, the president would like to renew his appeal for the release of all hostages, notably the most vulnerable, who should be released as soon as possible.”

“The president confirms his determination to work tirelessly to ensure that all hostages, and in particular our own compatriot Ingrid Betancourt, are released quickly and reunited with their families,” said the statement.

For their part, the rebels said in a statement that the release of the four hostages was intended to pay tribute to the efforts of their “friend” Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and did not fall within the framework of an agreement signed with the government of Colombian President Alvaro Uribe.

The hostages released Wednesday are former Colombian legislators Jorge Gechem, Gloria Polanco, Luis Eladio Perez and Orlando Beltran - all kidnapped in 2001-02 from the jungle in southern Colombia. The released hostages later travelled to Venezuela.

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