French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner flew into Bogotá in the first leg of a three-nation tour during which he will also meet Ecuador’s president and Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez, who negotiated the release of six rebel captives this year.Kouchner planned to address lingering diplomatic tensions among the three Andean countries after the Colombian military attacked a rebel camp inside Ecuador in March, killing a top commander and setting off a week-long regional crisis.But hopes for a deal to free captives have dimmed as Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, commanders hardened their stance after the attack. They rejected the emergency medical mission Paris sent to try to treat Betancourt, who is said to be ill, in their jungle camps.“The message is very simple, that we will keep on working to find a way to free the hostages,” French Ambassador Jean-Michel Marlaud told local Caracol radio in Bogota.“Tensions among the three countries are complicating efforts to free the hostages,” he said.Colombia’s decades-long conflict has eased under President Alvaro Uribe, a U.S. ally who has sent troops to retake areas under the control of armed groups. The FARC is still fighting in remote areas aided by funds from cocaine trafficking. Betancourt, three U.S. contractors and more than 30 local politicians, troops and police are key hostages the FARC wants to swap for jailed rebels, including three fighters held in U.S. prisons.
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