FARC repeats demand for hostage-prisoner exchange
www.chinaview.cn 2008-01-16 11:18:01   Print

    BOGOTA, Jan. 15 (Xinhua) -- Colombia's largest anti-government rebel group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), said Tuesday it is willing to hand over their highest-profile hostages if its two key fighters are released from a U.S. jail as part of the exchange deal.

    Speaking to a domestic news agency Anncol, FARC commander EdgarDevia also demanded the demilitarization of Pradera and Florida, two southern Colombian towns.

    The two key fighters imprisoned in the United States are OmairaRojas Cabrera, better known by her alias Sonia, and Juvenal OvidioRicardo Palmera Pineda, known as Simon Trinidad.

    "All of the high-value hostages will be released by the FARC as part of a swap of prisoners that guarantees freedom for the guerillas deprived of their freedom at the time of signing, including Simon and Sonia," Devia said.

    The FARC released two hostages, former vice-presidential candidate Clara Rojas and former legislator Consuelo Gonzalez, on Jan. 10. Gonzalez was carrying documents showing that other hostages are alive.

    Colombia's president Alvaro Uribe has previously rejected demilitarization of the towns, saying it would leave residents without protection.

    He has instead offered to demilitarize a sparsely populated area measuring 150,000 square km, and said that the FARC and the government should talk there.

    Uribe also opposed the inclusion of the two FARC fighters held in U.S. jails, saying he had offered to release them before they were extradited if the FARC was willing to free all its hostages.

    The most well known of the high-profile hostages are U.S. citizens Keith Stansell, Thomas Howes and Marc Gonsalves, and Rojas's running-mate Ingrid Betancourt, a former presidential candidate of dual French and Colombian nationality.

    The Colombian government estimates there are 44 high-profile hostages, whom the FARC is seeking to swap, and around 700 other hostages, whom the guerrillas are seeking to ransom.

Editor: Du Guodong
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