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Last Updated: Thursday, 26 August, 2004, 08:35 GMT 09:35 UK
US slams Colombia prisoner plan
By Jeremy McDermott
BBC correspondent in Bogota

AUC fighters
Paramilitaries are among the groups in talks with the government
The US has again got involved in Colombian attempts to make peace with guerrilla groups.

US ambassador William Wood effectively torpedoed the Colombian government's proposals to effect a prisoner exchange with one of the groups.

He spoke out against the release of imprisoned guerrillas, and warned the US would enforce extradition warrants against them if they were released.

This puts the Colombian government in a very difficult negotiating position.

The government is now engaged in dialogue with three of the country's warring factions.

Condemned

However, the US, while professing to support all peace efforts, has again limited the government's negotiating options.

Mr Wood spoke out against the release of prisoners, just as the Colombian government is seeking to negotiate some sort of exchange involving jailed rebels for political hostages held by the guerrillas.

The ambassador has also condemned the leadership of the right-wing paramilitaries with whom the government is also holding peace talks.

He said that many of the paramilitary leaders are drugs traffickers and insisted that the US would enforce extradition warrants against them.

This would leave the Colombian government very little to offer in exchange for the paramilitaries laying down their weapons.

Since the US bankrolls Colombia to the tune of some $700m a year, any comment by the American embassy cannot be ignored.


SEE ALSO:
Farc rebels reject hostage offer
23 Aug 04  |  Americas
Timeline: Colombia
19 Aug 04  |  Country profiles
Q&A: Colombia's civil conflict
06 May 03  |  Americas
Country profile: Colombia
06 May 04  |  Country profiles


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