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Colombian president visits France for rebel hostage diplomacy
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Colombian President Alvaro Uribe arrived in French capital Paris on Sunday, starting a tour to discuss European efforts to release hostages held by Colombian rebels.

Uribe met the family of the French-Colombian hostage Ingrid Betancourt after his arrival on Sunday.

Betancourt, a former Colombian presidential candidate who has been held since 2002, is the highest profile hostage of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Uribe's government considers her release a high priority.

Uribe is due to meet his French counterpart Nicolas Sarkozy on Monday at France's seat of government, the Elisee Palace.

He will also meet Heve Marro, the official spokesman for the French Ingrid Betancourt Support Committee.

Rebels of the FARC on January 10 handed over two women hostages, Clara Rojas and Consuelo Gonzalez, to an international mission led by Venezuela.

Consuelo Gonzalez was kidnapped in 2001 and Clara Rojas was taken hostage in 2002 alongside her running mate Ingrid Betancourt.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez acted as a mediator in the release of Rojas and Gonzalez.

(Xinhua News Agency, January 21, 2008)

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