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Cablegate: Uribe Reiterates Commitment to Obtain Release Of

VZCZCXYZ0000
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBO #8332/01 3372124
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 032124Z DEC 07
FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0372
INFO RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS PRIORITY 9597
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ DEC 9091
RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA PRIORITY 5677
RUEHZP/AMEMBASSY PANAMA PRIORITY 0911
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 1150
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO PRIORITY 6367
RUEHGL/AMCONSUL GUAYAQUIL PRIORITY 4192
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RUCNDTA/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 1876

UNCLAS BOGOTA 008332

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PINR PTER FR CO
SUBJECT: URIBE REITERATES COMMITMENT TO OBTAIN RELEASE OF
HOSTAGES HELD BY FARC

REF: BOGOTA 8305

-------
SUMMARY
-------

1. President Uribe said the GOC remains committed to
obtaining the release of hostages held by the FARC, and would
work with French President Sarkozy on new ways to achieve
this goal. Still, he cautioned that any release should not
strengthen the FARC or encourage kidnapping. GOC Peace
Commissioner Restrepo denied accusations by Senator Cordoba
that the GOC had deliberately seized proof of life provided
by the FARC to undermine President Chavez' and her
facilitation efforts, and ruled out further involvement by
either Cordoba or Chavez in the process. FARC Commander Ivan
Marquez criticized Uribe for "sabotaging" Chavez' role as
facilitator. End Summary.

------------
GOC RESPONSE
------------
2. In a December 1 speech, President Uribe said the GOC
remains committed to trying to obtain the release of the
hostages held by the FARC, but cautioned that any steps taken
should not strengthen the terrorist group or encourage future
kidnappings. He said he had spoken earlier that day with
French President Sarkozy, and the two had agreed to explore
new ways to achieve the hostages' freedom. Uribe stressed
that while the FARC had produced proof of life for some
hostages, it continues to hold over 750 Colombians that it
had kidnapped over the last few years.

3. On December 2, GOC Peace Commissioner Luis Carlos Restrepo
denied accusations by Senator Piedad Cordoba that the GOC had
intercepted the proof of life which it had made public on
November 30 prior to the November 20 visit of Venezuelan
President Chavez and Cordoba to Paris. Restrepo reiterated
that the GOC had seized the proof of life on November 29 in
Bogota and had made the materials public almost immediately.
He said Chavez' and Cordoba's facilitation effort had
produced no results, and reviewed numerous errors committed
by the two. Restrepo said the GOC no longer considers Chavez
and Cordoba as an option to facilitate an accord and stressed
that the GOC would work closely with the French. He warned
that the FARC's intransigence--especially its insistence on a
demilitarized zone in which to hold talks--would make it hard
for any facilitator to produce results.

---------------------------------
CORDOBA AND FAMILIES VISIT CHAVEZ
---------------------------------

4. Senator Cordoba and twelve members of the families of the
hostages traveled to Caracas to meet with President Hugo
Chavez on December 1 to thank him for obtaining the proof of
life from the FARC. Family members voiced frustration with
the GOC for releasing the proof of life to the media before
members of the families were able to view them. Yolanda
Pulecio, mother of Ingrid Betancourt, sharply criticized the
GOC for making available to the media Ingrid's letter to her.
Cordoba repeated her claims that the GOC had deliberately
obstructed her efforts to advance a humanitarian accord, and
urged President Uribe to give her and Chavez until December
31 to obtain the release of some hostages. (Note: Uribe
initially set a December 31 deadline for the Chavez-Cordoba
initiative to show results before ending their involvement on
November 21.) After meeting with Cordoba and Betancourt's
family members on December 3, Chavez said he would be willing
to continue working to promote a humanitarian exchange.

---------------
FARC SPEAKS OUT
---------------

5. FARC Commander Ivan Marquez said in an article posted on
the FARC's website on November 30 that the proof of life
seized by the GOC on November 29 was intended for President
Chavez. He had promised Chavez that the FARC would deliver
such evidence during their November 8 meeting at Miraflores
palace in Caracas. Marquez claimed the GOC seizure

undermined the efforts of Chavez and Cordoba over the last
three months, and said "there will never be a humanitarian
exchange as long as Uribe continues to act like this." He
criticized Uribe's insistence on maintaining his
non-negotiable points, especially the refusal to allow
released FARC members to return to the group's ranks, and
called him a "saboteur." Marquez said Sarkozy could play a
role similar to that of Chavez in facilitating a humanitarian
process, but questioned whether he would be willing to do so.

Nichols

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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