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Betancourt makes Colombia return

Ingrid Betancourt in Colombia, 29 November, 2008
Ingrid Betancourt is expected to visit other Latin American countries

Former hostage Ingrid Betancourt has made a surprise visit to Colombia for the first time since she was dramatically freed five months ago.

The French-Colombian politician has lived in Europe since her release from Farc rebels after six years in July.

She was due to meet President Alvaro Uribe in Bogota later.

"This is her first stop in a tour of various countries in Latin America," said a statement posted on Colombia's presidential website.

The visit came despite her saying just a day earlier that she had agreed for the sake of her concerned children not to return to the country.

When Ms Betancourt arrived in Bogota from Paris, she said: "I am very happy to be here," AFP news agency reported.

Protest march

Her mother Yolanda Pulecio was with her, and they were welcomed by French ambassador Jean-Michel Marlaud.

On Friday she had led a march in Madrid, while thousands of people also marched in Colombia and other countries, and appealed for Farc to release its captives.

The Farc (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) has fought to overthrow the Colombian government and install a Marxist government since the 1960s.

It is holding hundreds of hostages in jungle camps, either for ransom or to exchange for government-held rebels.

Ms Betancourt was rescued along with three American military contractors and 11 Colombian military personnel in a daring rescue operation in July.

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