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Colombia Ready to Restore Relations With Ecuador


Colombia's foreign minister says his country is prepared to re-establish relations with Ecuador that were broken following a Colombian cross-border military raid earlier this month.

Fernando Araujo told Colombian radio (Radio Caracol) Tuesday that he has instructions to work towards achieving peaceful and fraternal relations. Araujo also said he will cooperate with the Organization of American States, which rejected the raid that targeted Colombian FARC rebels.

Ecuador and Venezuela broke off relations with Colombia after the March 1 raid on a rebel outpost. Although tensions have since eased, Ecuador confirmed Sunday that one of its citizens had been killed during the attack that also left a FARC commander, Raul Reyes, and several other rebels dead.

Meanwhile, Colombia's top army commander, Mario Montoya, said Tuesday that he had no information about the health or location of Ingrid Betancourt, the one-time presidential candidate who has been held by the FARC for six years.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez also said he had no new information about Betancourt. Mr. Chavez, who has negotiated with the FARC to arrange several hostage releases, said he also had lost contact with the guerrilla group.

The case of the French-Colombian Betancourt has attracted attention around the world, with French President Nicolas Sarkozy making her release one of his diplomatic priorities.

Betancourt's health is reportedly deteriorating, according to hostages who were released recently, and who said Betancourt was suffering ill-treatment at the hands of her captors.

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

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