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Colombia Backs Second Venezuelan Hostage Operation

Colombia's government has approved a new attempt by Venezuela to pick up two hostages held by leftist rebels in the Colombian jungle. VOA's Brian Wagner reports Venezuela's president says he has received instructions from rebels about the hostages' location.

Colombia's government responded quickly to the Venezuelan request to pick up the two hostages, former Colombian vice presidential candidate Clara Rojas, and former congresswoman Consuelo Gonzalez. Rebels of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, known as FARC, have held the women in secret jungle camps.

Colombia's peace commissioner Luis Carlos Restrepo said officials would provide all necessary guarantees to ensure the mission's success.

Restrepo said there is strong cooperation between the Colombian and Venezuelan governments, and both sides are working on operational details to complete the recovery.

Members of the International Committee of the Red Cross are to oversee the mission which is expected to begin Thursday.

In Caracas, President Hugo Chavez announced the new effort, saying he had finally received information from FARC leaders about the hostages' location.

He said he hopes the two women will be freed in coming hours, and he hopes sometime soon all people being held in Colombia will be released.

Last month, Mr. Chavez sent aircraft carrying a team of international dignitaries to Colombia to pick up the two women, as well as the son of Rojas, who was born in captivity. The effort fell apart after FARC leaders failed to relay the location of the hostages, saying it was too dangerous because of Colombian military activities in the jungle region.

Colombian officials later confirmed that rebels had not been holding the young boy as they claimed. They said DNA testing proved the boy had been freed more than two years ago and was living in a foster home in Bogota.