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Colombia Ends Chavez-FARC Negotiations


Colombian President Alvaro Uribe has canceled negotiations between his country's main rebel group and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez aimed at a possible hostage swap.

Mr. Uribe announced the end of the talks in a statement released by his office Wednesday. The statement says Mr. Chavez's role as a mediator was canceled because he violated an agreement with Mr. Uribe not to speak directly with General Mario Montoya, the head of the Colombian armed forces.

The Venezuelan leader spoke to General Montoya to get information about 45 hostages being held by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC.

Mr. Uribe's decision is a major setback in efforts to secure the release of the hostages, including politician Ingrid Betancourt and three U.S. contractors. He had given conditional approval for Mr. Chavez to meet with FARC leader Manuel Marulanda (in Caguan in southern Colombia).

The FARC is demanding the release of rebels held in government prisons in return for freeing the hostages.

Betancourt was running for the Colombian presidency when she and her campaign manager, Clara Rojas, were abducted in 2002 and taken into the jungle.

Mr. Chavez and Colombian Senator Piedad Cordoba began holding talks with FARC leaders back in August.

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

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