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Venezuelan President Says US Could Help in Securing Release of Hostages in Colombia

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has suggested that U.S. President George W. Bush could help secure the release of some long-held hostages in Colombia, including three Americans.

Mr. Chavez, a socialist who a year ago called Mr. Bush "the devil" during a United Nations speech, said Tuesday the United States can help get the hostages released.

He made the comment after meeting in Caracas with the families of three Americans held hostage by Marxist rebels in Colombia since 2003. U.S. State Department contractors Thomas Howe, Keith Stansell and Marc Gonsalvez were abducted after their plane was shot down during an anti-drug mission.

Colombia's largest rebel group, known as FARC, wants hundreds of its prisoners released in exchange for the three Americans. Two of the prisoners FARC wants freed are jailed in the United States.

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