Kouchner: Sarkozy ready to pick up Betancourt from South America

Other News Materials 4 April 2008 20:11 (UTC +04:00)

(dpa) -  French President Nicolas Sarkozy would be willing to pick up rebel hostage Ingrid Betancourt personally from South America in case of her release, Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner told French media on Friday.

Speaking on the sidelines of the NATO summit in Romania, Kouchner said if there was hope that the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the rebel group holding Betancourt since 2002, were to release her, Sarkozy and his Venezuelan counterpart Hugo Chavez would travel to the Colombian-Venezuelan border together.

Sarkozy had said earlier that he would be willing to undertake such a trip.

On Thursday, France sent a humanitarian mission to Colombia to rescue Betancourt, 46, a former presidential candidate, who holds dual French-Colombian citizenship.

Betancourt's sister Astrid however had little faith in the success of such a mission. "It would be a miracle if the mission was successful," she said

Together with several humanitarian organizations she urged Colombian President Alvaro Uribe not to endanger the hostages' lives by engaging in military action against FARC.

The hostages' safety could only be guaranteed by creating a "climate of trust" between FARC and the Colombian government, she said.

If Uribe was to ignore this request, he was not the democratic leader he aspired to be, but an executioner of the innocent she said in an open letter to Uribe.