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Chavez to Address Delayed Release of Colombian Hostages


Venezuela says President Hugo Chavez plans to meet with the news media on Wednesday to discuss the delayed release of three hostages being held by Colombia's largest leftist rebel group, the FARC.

The FARC said earlier this month that it would release to Mr. Chavez, or someone he designates, the former Colombian vice presidential candidate Clara Rojas, her young son, Emmanuel, who was born in captivity, and former lawmaker Consuelo Gonzalez.

It was not clear when the FARC planned to let the hostages go. Family members of the hostages had hoped the release would be before Christmas.

President Chavez was involved in hostage negotiations until Colombian President Alvaro Uribe ended the effort last month, saying the Venezuelan leader had overstepped his role as mediator. Mr. Chavez responded by cutting diplomatic ties with Colombia.

FARC rebels hope to trade dozens of hostages for the freedom of hundreds of their comrades captured by Colombian authorities. The move could lead to the release of other hostages, including former presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt, who was abducted with Rojas in February 2002. Betancourt turned 46 on Tuesday.

Rojas's son was fathered by one of her guerrilla captors.

Gonzalez was abducted in 2001.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.

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