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Mission is 'waiting for news from FARC'

Latest update : 2008-04-06

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said the medical mission to help French-Colombian hostage Ingrid Betancourt, who has been held for six years by FARC rebels, will stay put in Bogota until the guerrillas give a response.


France said Saturday its medical mission to help French-Colombian hostage Ingrid Betancourt, who is languishing after six years in the hands of FARC rebels, will stay put in Bogota until the guerrillas give a response.
   
"We had to do something. Now we're waiting for news from FARC," French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner told France 2 television channel, in an interview rebroadcast by Colombian media.
   
A French Falcon 50 airplane was on standby at Catam military airport in Bogota since Thursday, waiting to carry an international medical team to treat Betancourt, 46, should her captors allow it. She is rumored to be seriously ill and possibly near death.
   
The humanitarian mission, said Kouchner, "will stay put where it is," adding that the French government was "determined" to wait it out.
   
Oscar Lopez, Governor of Guaviare department, 400 kilometers (250 miles) south of Bogota, where Betancourt and other hostages are believe to be held somewhere in a rebel jungle camp, said the guerrillas "have given no sign" of an impending release.
   
The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia reiterated Thursday in a statement that any hostage release would come "if there is an exchange of prisoners." FARC seeks to swap its most prominent hostages, including Betancourt, for 500 jailed comrades.
   
Bogota has agreed to suspend military operations against the FARC to allow the deployment of the humanitarian mission, and last week it even suggested it would release some jailed rebels if Betancourt and other hostages were freed.
   
Meanwhile, a solidarity march is planned for Sunday in Paris and other French cities to press for Betancourt's release.
   
"We hope it will be the last demonstration prior to Ingrid's release," said Ingrid Betancourt Support Committee spokesman Herve Marro about the marches he said have been called by Betancourt's children Melanie and Lorenzo Delloye.
  

Date created : 2008-04-06

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