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Colombian Rebels Intend to Release 3 Hostages


Colombian leftist rebels have announced plans to free three hostages and hand them over to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

In a statement released to a Cuban news agency, Presna Latina, Tuesday, The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, said it will free Clara Rojas, her young son, Emmanuel, and former congresswoman Consuelo Gonzalez. It is not clear when the FARC will let them go.

Colombia's peace commissioner, Luis Carlos Restrepo, welcomed the FARC's decision and its gesture toward Mr. Chavez.

The rebel group said it would release the captives to the Venezuelan president, who Tuesday called the news a nice Christmas gift.

Mr. Chavez had been trying to trying negotiate the release of 45 hostages, before being called off by Colombian President Alvaro Uribe.

France's Prime Minister, Francois Fillon, Wednesday said France would take in any FARC members released in a possible prisoner exchange.

The FARC has demanded the release of 500 rebels held in Colombian prisons in exchange for their hostages, who include three Americans and French-Colombian Ingrid Betancourt.

Betancourt was captured by the FARC while campaigning for the Colombian presidency in February 2002. French President Nicholas Sarkozy has made her release a top priority.

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) released a statement Wednesday also urging FARC to release Betancourt from captivity.

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

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