The international community has welcomed the rescue of French-Colombian
politician Ingrid Betancourt, three American defense contractors and 11
other hostages after years of captivity in the Colombian jungle.
Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon issued a statement Wednesday
saying those and many other hostages still held captive in Colombia
have endured years of hardship. He called on leftist FARC guerrillas
to "immediately and unconditionally" free the remaining hostages.
President George Bush congratulated his Colombian counterpart, Alvaro
Uribe, in a phone conversation following Wednesday's rescue.
President Nicolas Sarkozy spoke with President Uribe as well. He said
Betancourt is in good health. France made her release a priority.
Brazil and the Vatican also praised Wednesday's operation by the
Colombian military. There was no immediate response from Venezuelan
President Hugo Chavez, who played a role in the release of six other
hostages earlier this year.
The Americans who were among the
freed captives were working for the defense contractor Northrop Grumman
at the time of their kidnapping. The company issued a statement late
Wednesday saying it is extremely pleased that its employees, Marc
Gonsalves, Thomas Howes and Keith Stansel, were freed safely after more
than five years in FARC captivity.
The company also thanked the Colombian and U.S. governments for their efforts in securing the release of the Americans.
Some information for this report provided by AFP, Reuters and AP.