( dpa ) - Leftist Colombian rebels plan to release further hostages to the Venezuelan government, including a US contractor being held, Colombian media reported Thursday.
The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) last week released former vice presidential candidate Clara Rojas and former legislator Consuelo Gonzalez, who had both been held for more than five years.
FARC is apparently looking to release one of the three US contractors the group has held since 2003, and four other hostages who are suffering health problems, W Radio reported.
Colombian Senator Piedad Cordoba - a former mediator in the process along with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez - said the issue had to be handled with discretion.
"The only thing I can say is that President Chavez is working towards obtaining further releases, particularly of people who are ill and of women," Cordoba told Colombian media from Caracas.
The legislator further called upon FARC to release civilians "who have nothing to do with the conflicts and to seek a humanitarian exchange of kidnapped soldiers and police officers for rebels held in prison."
William Brownfield, US ambassador to Colombia, said it would be important for the rebels to release all of their hostages, and not just a small group. He said FARC are solely responsible for the kidnappings and "it is totally up to them to solve this problem."
Colombian Defence Minister Juan Manuel Santos said that, if the reports are true and FARC are willing to release more hostages, the Colombian government would again cooperate with the operations to release them.
"Of course we are going to cooperate like we have done in the past, like we did a few days ago with two kidnapped hostages who today are fortunately enjoying their freedom," Santos said.
FARC are estimated to hold more than 750 hostages, including around 50 that they consider politically-relevant and that they hope to exchange for imprisoned rebels.