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Saturday, March 25, 2017
Colombia: Church delegation meets with rebels
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 A delegation of the Colombian Catholic Church has met representatives of the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) for "an exchange of proposals" on the on-going hostage crisis. FARC are currently holding more than 20 politicians ­ including former presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt, over 30 soldiers and police officers and three Americans who were abducted in February last year. The Missionary News Service report that the meeting, which was held in a secret location in the south of the country, took place about a week ago. No details were revealed as to the nature of the talks. The Church delegation included the deputy chairman of the Colombian Bishops Conference and Archbishop of Tunja, Monsignor Luis Augusto Castro, and the secretary of the National Conciliation Commission, Father Darío Echeverrí. The difficult negotiations for the release of the hostages held by the FARC were stalled in February when President Alvaro Uribe refused to free around 500 guerrillas detained in national prisons in exchange for the release of 60 hostages. Uribe said that without a cessation of hostilities no FARC proposals would be considered. Uribe also rejected a call from the guerrillas to demilitarise the territory, and said the hostages must be released unconditionally. Last year the Church was closely involved in negotiations which lead to the safe release of eight kidnapped tourists. Source: MISNA
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