Kouchner also said that the health of Ingrid Betancourt, a French-Colombian hostage, may not be as bad as had been believed earlier.Betancourt, a dual citizen, was taken hostage by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, in 2002 while campaigning for the Colombian presidency.Betancourt’s son has said she is on the verge of death after being held for more than six years by the rebels in the Colombian jungle. Concern about Betancourt’s condition helped motivate France to send the humanitarian mission, including doctors, to the Colombian region last week. The mission appears to have made little progress, with officials unable to establish contact with the rebels holding Betancourt and other captives.Kouchner said on LCI, the French television network, that the mission was waiting for the rebels to respond, but insisted that it “is not blocked.””We are not going to leave after 24 hours,” he said, noting that the rebels were still reeling from a Colombian military attack last month that had killed one of their leaders.”Therefore we need more time. We are waiting,” he said. Kouchner added that “France is ready to do anything” to help free Betancourt.Asked about her health, he said, “We have the impression that not only is she still alive but that she is feeling better than had been said.” Betancourt is said to be suffering from hepatitis B and a ravaging skin disease.Kouchner said that France was still considering taking in rebels freed from Colombian prisons as part of any possible hostage release deal. “We could serve as intermediaries for a while and take them in as a guarantee, while our hostages, other hostages, are liberated,” he said.President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner of Argentina was in Paris for talks with the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, on Monday that were expected to focus on Betancourt and the other Colombian hostages. Kouchner, Kirchner, the French first lady, Carla Sarkozy and thousands of others attended a demonstration Sunday in Paris demanding Betancourt’s release.In Colombia, a bishop preaching in a war zone Sunday called on leftist rebels to release Betancourt and hundreds of other, lesser-known captives.
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