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Official Says France Re-Establishes Contact With Colombian FARC Rebels

An aide to French President Nicolas Sarkozy says France has re-established communication with Colombian FARC rebels who have been holding French - Colombian politician Ingrid Betancourt and other hostages in secret jungle camps.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, made the comment Thursday in the case of the French-Colombian Betancourt, who has been in captivity for more than six years. The comment comes two months after the FARC refused to allow a French-led humanitarian mission access to her.

Betancourt was kidnapped in February 2002 while campaigning for the Colombian presidency. The government of France has made her release a priority and expressed concern that she may be gravely ill. Concerns about her health grew following the release last year of a video in which she appeared gaunt and depressed.

Betancourt is among a group of high-profile hostages who the FARC wants to exchange for hundreds of imprisoned rebels. She is one of at least 700 hostages in FARC custody. Three Americans are among the hostages.

The United States, European Union and Colombia have designated the FARC as a terrorist organization.

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