Uribe praises diplomatic relations with Ecuador; stands firm on FARC

Colombian President Álvaro Uribe on Friday in an interview with a local radio station reiterated his administration’s stance on unconditional release of prisoners held by leftist guerrillas, while on the other hand praising the “good path” to restore relations with neighboring Ecuador.

Uribe said the FARC, Colombia’s oldest armed rebel group, must release all imprisoned members of security forces still held in jungle camps if there is to be any talk of an exchange for imprisoned guerrillas.

In the interview, with RCN radio news Bogota, Uribe said he told families of the hostages that the FARC had agreed during negotiations underway including opposition senator Pieadad Cordoba, clergy members and the International Committee of the Red Cross to partial releases.

But Uribe stressed the government needs a guarantee.

“The Government can not lose sight that there needs to be assurance that they will release the others,” said Uribe.
Ecuador broke relations with Colombia in March 2008 following a Colombian military incursion into its territory to bomb FARC guerrilla camps operating across the border. That attack killed several FARC guerrillas including high ranking rebel officers.

The process to heal the tense relations to date have included bilateral associations between business leaders from both countries.

And on Thursday both governments in Bogota revived a Binational Border Commission and agreed to commit more military and police to diplomatic missions.

Uribe spoke with the network in the wake of rapidly increasing tensions in the region.
Venezuelen troops on Thursday destroyed two foot bridges the army said were illegally facilitating traffic of contraband across the border.

Colombia and Venezuela have had icy diplomatic relations for months as Venezuela fiercely objects a Colombian agreement with the U.S. that allows the Americans to use military bases and civilian airports for counternarcotics and counterterrorism missions.

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