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Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 January 2008, 18:46 GMT
EU to keep Farc on 'terror list'
Colombian President Alvaro Uribe in Brussels (22 January)
Mr Uribe praised "Europe's resolve" during his visit to Brussels
The European Union has insisted it will not remove Colombia's Farc rebels from its "terror list", despite recent calls by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

"The answer is no. There is no reason to change our position," said EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana after talks with Colombia's president.

Alvaro Uribe is on a European tour to discuss ways to liberate dozens of hostages held by the guerrilla group.

Colombia accuses the Farc of holding more than 700 captives.

'No conditions'

Earlier this month, the Venezuelan president urged the US and European governments to stop treating Colombian left-wing rebel groups as terrorists.

After helping to broker the release of two high-profile hostages, Mr Chavez said the Farc and the National Liberation Army (ELN) were armies with a political project and should be recognised as such if peace talks were to progress.

Hugo Chavez and freed Farc hostage Clara Rojas

The Colombian president immediately rejected his call and the EU has supported his stance.

"Uribe has our full support in the battle he is waging against terrorism. The terrorists must free the hostages with no conditions," said Javier Solana following the talks in Brussels.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso also praised Colombia's efforts to secure the release of the remaining hostages.

He welcomed the release of the two female hostages, which he said afforded "new hope".

But he said: "We cannot forget the other 700, including Ingrid Betancourt, who are being held in inhuman conditions, many of them for several years."

The EU added the Farc to its list of terrorist organisations in June 2002, shortly after Ms Betancourt - a former Colombian presidential candidate - was seized.

Mediation role

The Colombian president said his government was seeking peace but taking the Farc off the list would not be a useful step.

He praised "Europe's resolve" in the matter and called for the reactivation of the mediation role of France, Spain and Switzerland in negotiations.

Mr Uribe describes Farc members as terrorists who fund their operations with cocaine smuggling, recruit children and plant land mines in their effort to topple a democratically elected government.

The Farc and the ELN say they are fighting for a fairer distribution of wealth.

Mr Uribe is now expected to travel to Spain, where he will hold talks with King Juan Carlos and Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero.





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