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French Holding Secret Talks with FARC to Gain Betancourt's Release


French government negotiators are holding secret talks with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, FARC, in an effort to win the release of politician Ingrid Betancourt, who was kidnapped by rebels more than three years ago.

Colombia's President Alvaro Uribe gave France permission to negotiate with the guerrillas in the Colombian jungle, but he continues to reject rebel demands to trade scores of hostages for hundreds of FARC prisoners.

The government is not commenting on the talks, other than to confirm they have taken place.

Ms. Betancourt was kidnapped while she was campaigning for Colombia's presidency as a leftist candidate in early 2002. She is one of about 60 political hostages taken by FARC in the last seven years, including three U.S. intelligence officials.

Ms. Betancourt is a French and Colombian citizen, and was once a political science student of French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin when he was a professor.

Some information for this report provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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