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Sunday, 29 March, 1998, 01:44 GMT 02:44 UK
Colombian President urges governments to break contacts with rebels

The Colombian President, Ernesto Samper, has urged foreign governments to suspend any contacts they may have with a guerrilla movement which is holding a number of hostages, including four Americans and an Italian.

President Samper said the actions of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia were brutal.

The rebels have threatened to put the hostages on trial to determine if they are spies.

The US and Italy both say the hostages are innocent victims, with no political connections.

A spokesman for the rebels, Marco Leon Calarca, speaking from Mexico, told the BBC that US intelligence agents were involved in counter-insurgency operations in Colombia.

Washington says its military advisers in Colombia are working on anti-drugs operations.

From the newsroom of the BBC World Service

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