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Last Updated: Friday, 23 September 2005, 18:34 GMT 19:34 UK
Colombia, France in hostage row
Ingrid Betancourt
Ingrid Betancourt was kidnapped in February 2002
A diplomatic row has broken out between Colombia and France over efforts by Paris to free a Colombian hostage held by left-wing rebels.

Bogota accused France of holding unauthorised talks with Farc rebels regarding politician Ingrid Betancourt, who is also a French citizen.

It said the talks constituted an interference in its internal affairs.

A French diplomat in Bogota said France had an agreement with Colombia to carry out its own investigation in the case.

'Annoyed and angered'

"Colombia has not authorised any contact between the Farc and the French government," a letter from the Colombian foreign ministry said.

It said Bogota was "annoyed and angered" by the clandestine talks.

In response, a spokesman from the French embassy in Bogota said "the [Colombian] government authorised the French government to intercede on behalf of the people who have been kidnapped".

The spokesman said that in July a French envoy travelled to a secret location to meet top Farc commander Raul Reyes.

Mrs Betancourt was a candidate in Colombia's 2002 presidential elections when she was seized by the rebels.

Farc guerrillas are holding at least 60 hostages, including three US defence contractors.

The Colombian government is trying to negotiate a swap of hostages for imprisoned rebels.

But correspondents say it is unlikely that the Farc leadership will accept the government's terms.

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12 Nov 02 |  Americas

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