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Last Updated: Monday, 21 November 2005, 14:19 GMT
Colombia 'seeking' hostage talks
Ingrid Betancourt
Ingrid Betancourt was kidnapped in February 2002
Colombia is seeking a humanitarian agreement for left-wing rebels to free dozens of politicians, soldiers and policemen they are holding hostage.

The government said that Peace Commissioner Luis Restrepo would be in charge of the negotiations together with an international commission.

The rebels of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc) are holding nearly 60 hostages.

The government has unsuccessfully tried to negotiate their release.

The Farc has said the hostages will not be released until hundreds of their comrades currently serving prison sentences are set free.

Among the kidnapped politicians is Ingrid Betancourt, who was a candidate in Colombia's 2002 presidential election. She is also a French citizen.

A press release from President Alvaro Uribe's office said that Mr Restrepo had already made the first steps in the direction of seeking an agreement.

The announcement comes after the mother of Ms Betancourt called on Mr Uribe not to attempt a military rescue of the hostages.

Correspondents say that, with one eye on re-election next year, the Colombian president is anxious to gain the release of the prisoners held by the Farc.

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