Venezuela says Colombia impeding rescue

Jan. 1, 2008 at 2:18 PM

CARACAS, Venezuela, Jan. 1 (UPI) -- Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has accused Colombian President Alvaro Uribe of trying to thwart Venezuelan efforts to release three hostages in Colombia.

Last week, Venezuelan helicopters were scheduled to pick up the hostages being held by Colombia's leading rebel group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC.

Uribe said that one of the hostages, a 3-year-old, might be an unidentified boy being treated at a Colombian hospital, El Universal reported Tuesday. Chavez said the claim was an effort to stall his country's efforts to recover the hostages.

Chavez reportedly has been negotiating with FARC rebels for the release of the hostages, including an aide to former Colombian presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt, also being held though she is not among those the FARC allegedly promised to release.

The FARC and the Colombian government have been battling for more than 40 years.

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