Brazil urges Colombia, rebels to negotiate hostage release

By Xinhua

Rio de Janeiro : Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has urged Colombian President Alvaro Uribe and the leaders of the radical leftist rebels to negotiate the release of hostages held by the rebels.

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Brazil will work for the release of more people held hostage by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), as it is a humanitarian issue, Lula said in his weekly radio program.

FARC released on Jan 9 former Columbian vice-presidential candidate Clara Rojas and former congresswoman Consuelo Gonzalez, after almost six years in captivity, in an international operation led by Venezuela last week.

Lula said the release could be a sign for the release of other hostages.

“Therefore, the request I make is that the Colombian government and my friend, President Uribe, as well as the leaders of the FARC reach an agreement in order to release more people kept captive,” he said.

The FARC has offered to swap 45 high-profile hostages in return for the release of 500 members of the rebel group from Colombian jails.

FARC’s hostages include former Columbian presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt and three US citizens.