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Cablegate: French Deny Negotiating with Farc for Release Of

O 071915Z AUG 03
FM AMEMBASSY PARIS
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1769
INFO EU MEMBER STATES
AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
AMEMBASSY BRASILIA
AMEMBASSY CARACAS

id: 9968
date: 8/7/2003 19:15
refid: 03PARIS5741
origin: Embassy Paris
classification: CONFIDENTIAL
destination: 03BRASILIA2243|03PARIS5356
header:
O 071915Z AUG 03
FM AMEMBASSY PARIS
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1769
INFO EU MEMBER STATES
AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
AMEMBASSY BRASILIA
AMEMBASSY CARACAS


----------------- header ends ----------------

C O N F I D E N T I A L PARIS 005741


E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/07/2013
TAGS: PREL PTER CO BR FR
SUBJECT: FRENCH DENY NEGOTIATING WITH FARC FOR RELEASE OF
INGRID BETANCOURT

REF: A. PARIS 5356
B. BRASILIA 2243

CLASSIFIED BY: CHARGE D'AFFAIRES ALEX WOLFF FOR REASONS 1.5 (B) AND (D).

1. (C) DURING AN AUGUST 7 MEETING WITH FOREIGN MINISTER
VILLEPIN'S CABINET DIRECTOR PIERRE VIMONT ON A RANGE OF
ISSUES, CHARGE ASKED DIRECTLY WHETHER FRANCE HAD NEGOTIATED
WITH THE FARC IN AN EFFORT TO SECURE THE RELEASE OF
FRENCH-COLOMBIAN CITIZEN INGRID BETANCOURT. VIMONT
EXPLICITLY DENIED THAT THERE HAD BEEN ANY GOF CONTACT WITH
THE FARC. HE SAID THE FRENCH DISPATCH OF A C-130 AIRCRAFT TO
MANAUS, BRAZIL HAD BEEN A PURELY HUMANITARIAN MISSION CARRIED
OUT AT THE REQUEST OF BETANCOURT'S FAMILY, WHO HAD HAD
INDICATIONS THAT THE FARC WAS ON THE POINT OF RELEASING
INGRID.

2. (C) VIMONT DESCRIBED A SUCCESSION OF EVENTS THAT HAD
CAUSED THE GOF TO TAKE A DECISION TO ATTEMPT TO BE HELPFUL TO
THE BETANCOURT FAMILY, IF POSSIBLE. ACCORDING TO VIMONT, AT
SOME POINT BEFORE THE EARLY JULY DISPATCH OF THE FRENCH C-130
TO MANAUS, THE COLOMBIAN GOVERNMENT AND THE BETANCOURT FAMILY
RECEIVED INFORMATION THAT INGRID BETANCOURT WOULD BE RELEASED
BY THE FARC DUE TO HEALTH CONCERNS. COLOMBIAN PRESIDENT
URIBE, WHO, WITH HIS MILITARY STAFF, REPORTEDLY CONSIDERED AN
ASSAULT TO FREE BETANCOURT, WAS URGED BY THE BETANCOURT
FAMILY TO AVOID AN ATTACK AND TO LET THEM TRY ANOTHER OPTION
TO RETRIEVE INGRID. THE FAMILY THEN CAME TO THE GOF WITH A
REQUEST FOR ASSISTANCE, HOPING TO FLY INGRID OUT OF BRAZIL
AFTER THE FARC HAD RELEASED HER TO THEM. VIMONT SAID THAT
VILLEPIN HAD NOTIFIED THE URIBE GOVERNMENT OF THIS AS THE
OPERATION WAS UNDER WAY, AND THAT THE GOC HAD SUBSEQUENTLY
MADE IT CLEAR THAT THEY UNDERSTOOD THE REASONS FOR THE FRENCH
INITIATIVE AND ITS HUMANITARIAN NATURE ("WE ALSO HAVE OUR
PROBLEMS FROM THE BETANCOURT FAMILY").

3. (C) VIMONT SAID THAT THE BRAZILIAN PRESS HAD MADE THREE
ALLEGATIONS CONCERNING THE AFFAIR: A) THAT FRANCE HAD BEEN
PREPARED TO PAY A RANSOM FOR BETANCOURT'S RELEASE; B) THAT
THERE HAD BEEN ARMS ABOARD THE PLANE; AND, C) THAT FRANCE HAD
TAKEN OUT A FARC COMMANDER ON THE PLANE FOR MEDICAL
TREATMENT. VIMONT SAID THAT HE HAD BEEN PERSONALLY INVOLVED
IN THE PLANNING OF THE MISSION AND HE CATEGORICALLY DENIED
ALL THREE ALLEGATIONS. HE SAID THAT THERE HAD BEEN FOUR
EMPTY SEATS ON THE PLANE, BUT THESE HAD BEEN INTENDED FOR
INGRID, HER SISTER, A PRIEST WHO ACTED AS INTERMEDIARY FOR
THE FAMILY, AND INGRID BETANCOURT'S FORMER PRESIDENTIAL
CAMPAIGN MANAGER.


WOLFF

=======================CABLE ENDS============================

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