Venezuela to recover Farc captives

Colombia rebel group gives coordinates of hostage location to Chavez government.

    Rodriguez, right, accused the Colombian army of obstructing the hostage release [AFP]

    The four hostages are former legislators who are part of a group of 43 captives whom the Farc want to swap with the Colombian government for 500 of its fighters held in prison.
     
    But the two sides have failed to agree on conditions for the exchange.
     
    Army 'support'
     
    General Freddy Padilla, the commander of Colombia's armed forces, told the Reuters news agency that Venezuelan helicopters would be allowed to fly into Colombia to pick up the legislators as they had been permitted to do in a similar operation in January.
     
    "We are going to facilitate this, there are no operations in the area so the helicopters can arrive with the same ease and with the same support we gave to the previous rescue mission by the Venezuelans," Padilla said.
     
    Rodriguez earlier repeated Venezuelan accusations that the Colombian army was obstructing the release.
     
    "There are intense, powerful, careless operations in the area where the hostages are. I want the hostages' families to know their relatives are in danger," he said.
     
    The International Committee of the Red Cross, which participated in the previous rerscue mission in January said it would seek guarantees of safety for the new operation. 
     
    Raised hopes
     
    The release of the hostages - who have been held for more than six years in jungle camps - would raise hopes for the freedom of the most high-profile captives: Ingrid Betancourt, a French-Colombian politician, and three US contractors.
     
    Last month, two female politicians were released in a deal brokered by Chavez, marking the first major breakthrough in years in talks to move toward peace between Farc and the government of Alvaro Uribe, Colombia's president.
     
    However, after close initial co-operation, Chavez and Uribe, a close ally of the US have disagreed over Venezuelan's mediation role.
     
    The Venezuelan leader has angered Bogota and Washington by calling for more political recognition for Farc, which US officials label as a drug-trafficking terrorist group.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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