April 4th, 2008 06:25 EST
No Guerrillas, No Hostages
Colombian FARC rebels holding politician Ingrid Betancourt say they will not free her or any other captives until a deal is struck to free guerrillas held in Colombian prisons.
The statement was issued hours after a French-led medical mission arrived in Colombia in an effort to provide treatment to French - Colombian Betancourt . She is believed to be gravely ill after more than six years in FARC captivity. The mission is on standby at a Bogota military base, waiting for her captors to grant permission to see her.
French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner told Associated Press television that President Nicolas Sarkozy is ready to travel to Colombia with his Venezuelan counterpart, Hugo Chavez, in an effort to help bring home Betancourt.
Kouchner also said France would be willing to take Colombian FARC rebels that may be released from jail as part of any deal and give them refuge in French controlled Caribbean territories.
The government of Colombian President Alvaro Uribe has said it will do everything it can to help gain access to Betancourt. Mr. Uribe told French media Thursday that Colombia will suspend military operations to allow the humanitarian mission to reach her.
Betancourt is one of at least 700 hostages being held by the FARC in secret jungle camps in Colombia. Three Americans are among them.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.