Rescued hostage Ingrid Betancourt is urging French President Nicolas
Sarkozy to help win the release of hundreds of other captives still
held by Colombian rebels.
President Sarkozy gave Betancourt France's highest award, the Legion of Honor, in Paris Monday, during celebrations of Bastille Day the French national holiday.
Betancourt, who has both French and Colombian citizenship, was seized by Colombia's FARC rebels six years ago. She and 14 other hostages were rescued nearly two weeks ago (July 2) by Colombian soldiers masquerading as rebel commanders.
During Monday's ceremony at the Elysee Palace, Betancourt said France's campaign for her freedom provided hope for her and her fellow hostages during the years they spent in chains in the jungle camps. She told Mr. Sarkozy she is counting on him to continue working for the release of the Colombian rebels' remaining captives.
Betancourt's captors from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia are thought to have more than 700 hostages still under their control - people who were either kidnapped for ransom or seized for political reasons.
Betancourt, a former candidate for Colombia's presidency, says she will return to Colombia, but no date has been set. She has discussed few details of the harsh and brutal treatment she received, beyond saying that the time spent in captivity was "hell" for the body, mind and soul.
Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.