President Rafael Correa said his government is committed to finding a peaceful solution to the decades-old war in neighboring Colombia. Correa spoke at a news conference in Madrid at the start of a European tour that will also take him to Belgium and France.Colombian forces raided a Colombian rebel camp inside Ecuador on March 1, killing a senior rebel leader and 24 others. Colombian officials say messages saved in a computer recovered after the raid show Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has tried to arm and finance the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC.Colombia also has released documents suggesting ties between the Colombian guerrilla group and Ecuador’s leftist government.Correa said Monday that Colombia is waging a campaign of slander by saying his country serves as a safe haven for the FARC.”Colombia and the government of Colombia know they are lying,” Correa said.”I want to tell Spain and the world to have confidence. Ecuador has an honest government, with clean hands that are free of blood,” he said.The conflict is not with neighboring countries like Ecuador or Venezuela, he said, but is within Colombia itself — with the country’s insurgency, drug trafficking, paramilitary groups and a political world tainted by the drug trade, Correa said.Colombia, he said, “has to ensure that the conflict does not spread to neighboring countries. Ecuador is not an accomplice, nor an author of that conflict. It is a victim of that conflict.”In a newspaper interview published in French daily Le Monde on the eve of his visit to Paris on Tuesday, the president was quoted as saying the Colombian raid thwarted the possible release of hostage Ingrid Betancourt.Correa said a leader of the FARC guerrillas, Raul Reyes, had pledged to release Betancourt before he was killed in the raid March 1, according to the interview.”I do not know if he would have kept his word, but he announced the release of two hostages for March, including Madame Betancourt. France knew it,” Correa was quoted as saying. “Unfortunately, contacts with the FARC have been lost since the death of Raul Reyes.” He did not elaborate.Correa will meet for talks Tuesday with French President Nicolas Sarkozy about Betancourt and to meet with her family.Betancourt is a French-Colombian citizen who was campaigning for Colombia’s presidency when the FARC kidnapped her six years ago. Sarkozy and his government have campaigned for her release, and French diplomats have said Reyes was their key FARC contact until his death.Interpol is expected to announce the results of its examination of three laptops and other computer materials in Colombia on Thursday. The FARC has denied the authenticity of the computer documents.
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