Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Chavez seeks to meet Colombia rebels .

Chavez hopeful of hostage exchange asks the Colombian government to let him talk with leader of the FARC rebels in Colombia.

Chavez has agreed in principle to help his rival, Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, break a deal with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. They hold several hundred hostages, including three US defense contractors and former presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt, a French-Colombian citizen.

''President Uribe, you asked me for help. I want to help. Now help me,'' Chavez said. ''I make my formal request before the world; allow me to go to talk with Marulanda in Colombia.''

"If that doesn't happen, we will mess this up as everyone else has messed it up," he said during the program with guest Fernando Marin Valencia, Colombia's ambassador to Caracas.

Chavez said Marulanda, rebel's leader, proposed they meet in the area of Caguan and it would merely require agreeing to designate to a small neutral zone for several days.

After a meeting with US Commerce Secretary, Carlos Gutierrez, in the Colombian city of Medellin, Uribe rejected Chavez request believing it was inappropriate to set the meeting in rebel-controlled jungles of Colombia.

The French President, Nicolas Sarkozy is ready to travel to Colombia if such a visit can help win the release of the hostages, his spokesman said in Paris on Sunday

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