Effort to free Colombian hostages spreads to U.S.

Por Venezuela Real - 20 de Septiembre, 2007, 16:12, Categoría: Política Internacional

GONZALO GUILLEN
The New Herald
September 20, 2007

A Colombian senator hopes to meet with Colombian guerrillas being held in U.S. jails in an attempt to free hostages in her country.

In an effort to secure the release of dozens of hostages being held by guerrilla fighters in Colombia, including three Americans, a Colombian senator will travel to Washington Thursday to meet with two guerrilla leaders currently held in U.S. prisons, she said Wednesday.

Among the hostages are three U.S. military contractors who were kidnapped four years ago.

Colombian Sen. Piedad Córdoba, a mediator authorized by Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, said she plans to hold talks with Democratic legislators who are involved in the negotiations and to meet with Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) leaders who are now in U.S. prisons.

The two are known simply as ''Simón Trinidad'' and ``Sonia.''

The State Department confirmed Córdoba had requested the meeting with the prisoners but did not say whether permission will be granted.

The U.S. ambassador to Colombia, William Brownfield, recently said that Washington ''welcomes the participation of any political leader or important person'' in the efforts to gain the release of the hostages, including the three Americans.

Brownfield said one of his priorities is to gain the release of Thomas Howes, Marc Gonsalves and Keith Stansell, captured by the FARC when their intelligence-gathering aircraft crashed in Caqueta while collecting information on coca plantations.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, who has offered to negotiate with FARC to gain the release of hostages, hopes to meet with the top leader of FARC, Manuel Marulanda Veléz, aka ``Tirofijo.''

First, Chávez plans to meet with the guerrillas' spokesman, Raúl Reyes, at the presidential palace in Caracas on Oct. 8.

Sen. Córdoba met recently with Reyes in the jungle of southern Colombia and took to Venezuela a video in which Reyes mentions the possibility of a meeting of FARC officials with Chávez, Democrat legislators from the U.S. and relatives of the kidnapped Americans.





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