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Colombia/Ingrid Betancourt

Published on December 3, 2007
Statements made by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesperson

(excerpts)

Paris, November 30, 2007
I will read the communiqué from Foreign and European Affairs Minister Bernard Kouchner:

“We are delighted to have this long-awaited proof [that the hostages are alive] which provides some relief to the families concerned. We shall be studying it carefully.

“Our thoughts go out at this time to the hostages and their relatives.

“It is necessary today more than ever to intensify the efforts to find a humanitarian solution that will lead to the release of all the hostages.

“The French authorities remain fully mobilized to this end, in close liaison with the Colombian authorities.”

Q - With regard to Ingrid Betancourt and the proof she’s alive, I’d like to know whether France continues to support in principle President Chavez’s mediation which has been halted for the time being by the Colombian government?

At this time, it’s true we’ve stopped talking about this mediation effort. We learned and have taken formal notice of the decisions to date, in particular the Colombian president’s decisions, and now we’re hoping we can move toward the humanitarian solution which we’re waiting for in this matter and which will lead to the release of all the hostages, including Ingrid Betancourt.

Q - Through Mr. Chavez?

We’re not talking today about Mr. Chavez’s mediation, things have changed. We’ve taken note of the proof, and moreover we’ve not seen it all. I refer you to what the president and foreign minister said this morning. We’ve not seen the letter Ingrid Betancourt sent to her mother. We hope that we can move forward towards the humanitarian solution that we’ve all been waiting for so long, for far too long.

Q - A week ago France asked the Colombian government very bluntly to reverse its decision and allow Mr. Chavez to continue his mediation. Does this mean you’ve dropped this approach?

It’s important to recognize there’s been a change in this matter. It’s no longer Mr. Chavez’s mediation that’s the issue. That’s past. The news today is that we have new proof the hostages are alive. We support in general any mediation and any facilitation. What counts for us is getting a solution. We note the fact that the Colombian president, Alvaro Uribe, has said he didn’t wish that mediation to continue. So let’s move on, based on this proof.

I refer you to the minister’s communiqué; it’s a positive sign with respect to what we’re looking for. We hope that with this development, with the very important element that was provided today, which has delighted the president and the minister and the families even more, we are going be able to move towards a humanitarian solution which will result in the liberation of all the hostages, including Ingrid Betancourt

After the press briefing, the spokesperson said: “The Chavez mediation may also start again in the future. We support all facilitation and mediation efforts that can help bring about a humanitarian solution leading to the release of all the hostages including Ingrid Betancourt.”

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