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Cablegate: Goc Ok's French Medical Mission for Ingrid--Awaits

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C O N F I D E N T I A L BOGOTA 001223 \
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SIPDIS \
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SIPDIS \
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E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/02/2018 \
TAGS: PTER PREL PREF PHUM CASC MOPS FR CO
SUBJECT: GOC OK'S FRENCH MEDICAL MISSION FOR INGRID--AWAITS \
FARC RESPONSE \
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REF: BOGOTA 1178 \
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Classified By: Political Counselor John Creamer \
Reason 1.4 (b and d) \
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SUMMARY \
------- \
1. (C) President Uribe approved a request from French \
President Sarkozy to deploy a medical "humanitarian mission" \
to Colombia to save FARC hostage Ingrid Betancourt. Uribe \
did not provide details, but said the GOC would halt military \
operations once the French provided the coordinates for the \
operation. The ICRC confirmed it is not participating in \
the mission, since there has been no response from the FARC; \
they would participate only with approval from all parties. \
XXXXXXXXXXXX told us Swiss official Jean \
Pierre Gontard reported on March 28 that Betancourt is alive \
but refusing to eat. Sarkozy reportedly sent a private \
message to the FARC that the group would remain on terrorism \
lists "forever" if Betancourt dies. End summary. \
\
URIBE APPROVES FRENCH HUMANITARIAN MISSION \
------------------------------------------ \
2. (U) President Alvaro Uribe approved on April 1 a request \
from President Nicolas Sarkozy to deploy a French medical \
"humanitarian mission" to Colombia to treat FARC \
hostages--most notably Ingrid Betancourt. The French \
reportedly deployed a hospital plane to the region to be \
ready for the mission. Uribe announced immediately after \
taking a phone call from Sarkozy that the GOC would \
facilitate the French humanitarian mission due to numerous \
reports on Betancourt's failing health (reftel). Uribe also \
said the GOC would "suspend all military actions" as soon as \
it received coordinates for the French mission. Sarkozy \
expressed his gratitude for the quick approval. \
\
ICRC AWAITS FARC RESPONSE \
------------------------- \
3. (C) XXXXXXXXXXXX told us the ICRC is not participating in the French medical \
mission, because there has been no response so far from the \
FARC. For security reasons, the ICRC will not support \
missions without the approval of all parties involved. \
XXXXXXXXXXXX added that the French and Swiss hope to use the \
mission to re-establish high-level contacts with the FARC, \
but she questioned whether a high-profile, public effort was \
the best way to achieve this. \
\
GOC MOTIVATIONS \
--------------- \
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4. (C) XXXXXXXXXXXX told us decree 880 offering a GOC release of FARC prisoners as part \
of a de facto humanitarian exchange reflected GOC concern \
that Ingrid may be dead or dying, and not renewed prospects \
for obtaining her freedom. The GOC offer was not linked to \
new efforts by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez or recently \
released FARC hostage and former Senator Luis Eladio Perez. \
XXXXXXXXXXXX said the GOC issued the decree to increase \
international pressure on the FARC and to deflect blame if \
she dies. \
\
5. (C) XXXXXXXXXXXX said the GOC also wanted to see how the FARC's \
leadership and decision making process would react after \
Secretariat member Raul Reyes' death. In particular, the GOC \
\
SIPDIS \
wanted to see if the FARC would maintain demands for a \
demilitarized zone (despeje). XXXXXXXXXXXX speculated that the \
lack of an immediate FARC response reiterating its despeje \
demand might indicate the GOC is dealing with a new, if not \
kinder and gentler, FARC. \
\
WAITING FOR FARC RESPONSE \
------------------------- \
\
6. (C) The FARC has not yet responded to the French request, \
but XXXXXXXXXXXX told us Jean Pierre Gontard (Swiss contact with the FARC) claimed to have \
heard from the FARC on March 28 that Ingrid was alive but \
refusing to eat. The FARC are reportedly concerned about her \
attitude and declining health. XXXXXXXXXXXX said Raul Reyes had \
\
been Gontard's main FARC contact, but added that the \
Secretariat "owed Gontard a lot," since he arranged for \
\
SIPDIS \
family members of Alfonso Cano, Rodrigo Granda, and Reyes to \
live in Lausanne. \
\
7. (C) XXXXXXXXXXXX said he met on April 1 with French \
Ambassador Jean Michel Marlaud to discuss Betancourt, but \
noted that the French revealed no new information about her \
condition. They believe her refusal to eat may be a \
calculated risk to pressure the group to release her. The \
French talked "in the abstract" about an international \
medical mission to visit Ingrid, but did not reveal any \
definite plans. Marlaud said Sarkozy had sent a private \
message to the FARC that France would support the group's \
inclusion on the EU terrorist list "forever" if Ingrid died \
in FARC captivity. XXXXXXXXXXXX said Marlaud made it clear the \
French believe only Chavez can obtain Betancourt's freedom. \
\
BROWNFIELD \

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