Chavez congratulates Uribe, calls upon FARC to surrender
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on
Thursday congratulated Colombian President Alvaro Uribe for the rescue of
former presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt and 14 other hostages held by
leftist rebels, dpa reported.
Chavez - who has been heavily involved in efforts to secure the release of hostages held by the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colonbia (FARC) - further insisted in his demand that FARC depose their weapons.
The remarks by the leftist populist president smoothed over animosities with Colombian President Alvero Uribe, who has accused Chavez of supporting FARC as a way of eroding his own conservative philosophy.
Chavez stressed he shares the joy over Betancourt's rescue on Wednesday, and praised the Colombian Army for having carried its out without bloodshed.
"We congratulate Colombia. Last night (Wednesday) I called Uribe, and here we are still willing to help, not just in the release of the hostages but to achieve peace in Colombia," Chavez said in the Venezuelan tourist island of Margarita.
He recalled his recent calls to FARC to release their hostages, and noted that kidnapping is a "behaviour that one cannot share."
"I also said FARC should make a greater effort for peace. The time for rifles is gone. I believe that and I repeat: let us hope that the time for rifles never returns, that they do not force us to take up rifles again. I think the current time is different, it is a time for the peoples," he said.
Chavez again called upon FARC and its leaders to "think about it."
"I believe all countries on the continent would be willing to constitute a group to make sure a peace accord was respected, as happened in Central America, in Nicaragua, Guatemala and El Salvador," he said.