France offers to admit Farc rebels

Prisoners released as part of a hostage exchange deal could be housed in France.

    Farc said Clara Rojas, left, would be released along with her son and a former congresswoman [EPA]
    Cuba's Prensa Latina news agency said that Farc was planning to release Clara Rojas, her son Emmanuel and Consuelo Gonzalez, a former congresswoman.

    "The order to release them in Colombia has already been given," according to the communique obtained by Prensa Latina in Bogota.

    Rojas was captured along with Ingrid Betancourt, a French-Colombian presidential candidate, in 2002.

    Prisoner exchange

    Farc has previously offered to release 46 hostages, including Betancourt and three US defence contractors, in return for the release of hundreds of imprisoned rebels.

    Dozens of people including police officers, former members of congress and provincial governors are being held by the group.
     
    Last year, Jorge Enrique Botero, a Colombian journalist, said in a book that Rojas had given birth to a baby boy, Emmanuel, after a relationship with one of her captors.

    "This is the moment I
    have waited for"


    Clara Gonzalez, mother of Clara Rojas

    Her mother Clara Gonzalez told local radio: "This is the moment I have waited for".

     
    Gonzalez was kidnapped in September 2001.

    Chavez confirmed that he had been told by Farc that the group was planning to release some hostages.

    "This appears to be a nice Christmas gift, especially for the families of these people," he said.

    Colombia's government said it was reserving judgment on the Farc statement.
     
    Mediation efforts

    Earlier this year, Chavez was asked to try to secure the release of 47 hostages held by Farc, but his mediation was called off after a dispute with Alvaro Uribe, Colombia's president.

    Fillon said that the help of Latin American leaders could prove useful in securing the release of the hostages, but he stopped short of calling on Bogota to reverse its decision on Chavez's mediation.
       
    "Of course, we respect the sovereignty of every state and that of Colombia in particular," he said.

    Uribe recently offered rebels a temporary meeting zone for negotiations in the latest attempt to break the deadlock.
     
    But the Farc insisted in its communique that he remove troops for a demilitarised zone about the size of New York City to facilitate talks.

    Uribe has repeatedly rejected this proposal but news of the hostage release may renew pressure on him to relent.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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