26 de diciembre 2007 - 00:00

Chavez holds “only Colombia's authorization is missing” to release hostages

Chavez holds “only Colombias authorization is missing” to release hostages
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez offered on Wednesday to send aircraft to Colombia to pick up three hostages held by leftist guerrillas, including a child born in captivity.

"The only thing we need is authorization from the Colombian government," Chavez told reporters in the Venezuelan capital. "We hope they will cooperate with us."

Colombia's rebels have offered to free Clara Rojas, captured during her 2002 vice presidential campaign, and her young son Emmanuel, fathered by one of her guerrilla captors, as well as former lawmaker Consuelo Gonzalez, who was kidnapped in 2001.

But the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, is deadlocked with Colombia's conservative President Alvaro Uribe over the conditions under which the three would be released.

Chavez was told by Uribe last month to stay out of hostage negotiations with the FARC, but the left-wing firebrand has continued to talk with the outlawed rebel army.

Guerrilla leaders have said they want to turn the hostages over to Chavez or someone authorized by him.

The release of the three hostages could help set the stage for an exchange of other kidnap victims, including three U.S. contractors and French-Colombian politician Ingrid Betancourt, for Colombian guerrillas locked in government jails.

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