France sent a jet with doctors and diplomats on board to Colombia last week in hopes of getting access to Betancourt, 46, who was said to be gravely ill.”For the same reasons given the ICRC (International Red Cross) on January 17, the French medical mission is not appropriate and, moreover, is not the result of an agreement,” read a statement from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrillas, issued through the pro-rebel Bolivarian Press Agency (ABP).The statement claimed that if President Alvaro Uribe had cleared an area in southern Colombia earlier in the year, as the rebels requested, then Betancourt and the other hostages “would already have recovered their freedom, and it would have been a victory for all.”FARC guerrillas snatched Betancourt in February 2002 as she campaigned for the Colombian presidency.She is the most high-profile of 39 “political” hostages the FARC is holding in hopes of exchanging for 500 of its own members in Colombian and US jails.In all, the leftist rebel group is believed to detaining around 700 people. It uses kidnapping and Colombia’s narcotics trade to finance its four-decade-old insurgency.
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