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Cablegate: Farc Hostages: Gof Leaving "No Stone Unturned" To

VZCZCXYZ0033
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHFR #3941 2621607
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
O 191607Z SEP 07
FM AMEMBASSY PARIS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0301
INFO RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA 0451
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 0517

S E C R E T PARIS 003941

SIPDIS

SIPDIS
NOFORN

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/13/2017
TAGS: PTER PREL PINR FR CO
SUBJECT: FARC HOSTAGES: GOF LEAVING "NO STONE UNTURNED" TO
FREE HOSTAGES, ACCEPT CHAVEZ OFFER TO MEDIATE, OFFER VISIT


Classified By: Pol M/C Josiah Rosenblatt for Reasons 1.4 (B) and (D)

1. (S/NF) SUMMARY. The French determination to explore all
options that could lead to the release of Franco-Colombian
Ingrid Betancourt has led them to support Venezuelan
President Hugo Chavez,s offer to mediate a humanitarian
accord between the Colombian government and FARC guerillas.
MFA officials admit that while the GOF is open to Chavez,s
offer to act as a mediator in the release of FARC hostages,
France will not make any further moves until there is a
gesture of goodwill (proof of life) from the FARC. Since a
September 4 meeting on hostage negotiations between FM
Kouchner and his Colombian counterpart, Sarkozy has invited
President Chavez to France, a move downplayed by the French
MFA. Sarkozy will meet with Colombian president Uribe on the
margins of the UNGA on September 25. Betancourt is high on
the bilateral agenda. COMMENT: Betancourt remains a major
media presence in France and the GOF is under a great deal of
political pressure to show the government "will leave no
stone unturned" to secure her release. END COMMENT AND
SUMMARY.

2. (S/NF) On September 6, Poloffs and Deputy Director of
Regional Affairs for S/CT, Marc Norman, met with FM
Kouchner's Counselor for Latin American and Asian affairs,
Evan Nguyen Binh; DAS equivalent for South America, Michel
Pinard; and Colombia/Venezuela desk officer, Daniel Paradisi.
MFA representatives described the political pressure to
obtain this hostage release. They noted that while they are
willing to press for negotiations, the French require some
advance positive movement by the Revolutionary Armed Forces
of Colombia (FARC). Referring to the Colombian release of
200 FARC prisoners in June, the French noted that they have
not seen any steps toward negotiations by the FARC.
Specifically, the French seek proof of life as a requirement
for negotiations. The MFA representatives characterized
Venezuelan President Chavez's offer to act as a mediator
between the FARC and the Colombian government as an
opportunity while noting they do not have a precise
understanding of what Chavez can do. They highlighted the
intense political pressure on the French government to obtain
Betancourt's safe return and noted that they are not able to
turn down offers that might result in a hostage release. Eva
Nguyen Binh asked whether the U.S. might consider the release
of Simon Trinidad to the FARC. Poloffs and S/CT Deputy
Director Marc Norman unequivocally rejected this suggestion.

3. (S/NF) French President Sarkozy called Chavez over the
weekend of September 8 to discuss the hostage situation.
Sarkozy,s call followed an August 29 call to Chavez during
which the two presidents decided to "stay in as close contact
as possible." Statements from Venezuela report that Sarkozy
invited Chavez to France, "where he would welcome Chavez as a
friend." While MFA officials admit that a trip was discussed
and could occur in the next few months, neither the Elysee
Palace nor the MFA have said so publicly telling reporters
only that Chavez and Sarkozy discussed their willingness to
travel to Colombia. Chavez last visited France in 2005.
Focused on securing Betancourt's release, Foreign Minister
Kouchner told France Info radio that Chavez could "bring his
personal touch even if he is a very controversial. But after
all, all goodwill is welcome and we must not leave any stone
unturned." MFA Desk Officer Daniel Paradisi acknowledged
that Sarkozy initiated the second call which he described as
a means to an end. He added "it is hard to be friends with
Venezuela."

4. (SBU) The French continue their dialogue with the
Colombians as well with a Sarkozy call to Colombian President
Uribe on August 30. FM Kouchner followed by meeting
Colombian Foreign Minister Araujo on September 4. Uribe and
Sarkozy are scheduled to meet on September 25 on the margins
of the UN General Assembly to discuss the hostage situation
according to MFA contacts.

Please visit Paris' Classified Website at:
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/eur/paris/index.c fm


Stapleton

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