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FARC hands over four legislators to Venezuela
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Colombia's Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC) handed over on Wednesday four former legislators to a Venezuelan government and International Red Cross mission (ICRC).

The four former legislators Luis Perez, Orlando Beltran, Eduardo Gechem and Gloria Polanco were picked up by Venezuelan helicopters in a rural zone called La Poderosa in Guaviare department, southeast of Colombia at 12:10 P.M. local time (1710 GMT).

The FARC handed over the four hostages to Venezuela's Interior Minister Ramon Rodriguez, ICRC representatives and Colombian opposition senator Piedad Cordoba.

After a brief conversation with the guerrilla troops, the members of the mission parted towards the Santo Domingo locality, Tachira state, bordering with Colombia.

The four former legislators are expected to be transferred on Wednesday to Venezuela's capital, Caracas.

In Caracas, the Venezuelan government spokesman stated that the four former FARC hostages are "safe and in good health".

Colombia's High Peace Commissioner Luis Carlos Restrepo said former senator Gechem's health is delicate, but allows his transfer to Venezuela.

The FARC handed over the four former legislators as a "redress" to the peace negotiations carried out by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez since his facilitation efforts were interrupted by Colombian President Alvaro Uribe.

Their families are waiting for them in Caracas to welcome them together with Chavez.

"We are happy, thanks to everybody that made this possible," said Alba Polanco.

The four liberated former legislators formed part of 43 hostages held by the FARC with the intention of interchanging them for 500 FARC troops imprisoned by the Colombian government, among others that have been extradited to the United States.

(Xinhua News Agency February 28, 2008)

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