Chavez accuses Colombian counterpart of trying to jeopardize hostage release

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said on Monday that his Colombian counterpart Alvaro Uribe wanted to jeopardize the hostage release with a "smoke screen."

Uribe said at the central Colombian city Villavicencio that the child Emmanuel, one of the three hostages the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) promised to hand over to Venezuela, might turn out to be the child that suffers serious injuries and is being treated at a health center in Colombia.

"I believe Uribe wants to launch the hypothesis he could well prove tomorrow," Chavez said. "I have many reasons to doubt, based on experience, Uribe's team," he added.

FARC announced Monday its decision to postpone the release of the three hostages, among them Emmanuel, citing security problems sparked by rising military operations in the area.

Separately, six envoys in the international mission to pick up the hostages left Colombia for Venezuela on Monday afternoon. Four Venezuelan airplanes carrying them took off at 5:55 p.m. (1055 GMT) local time, according to Colombian government sources.

In a Dec. 9 statement, FARC offered to hand over to Venezuela former Colombian vice presidential candidate Clara Rojas, her son Emmanuel born in captivity, and former legislator Consuelo Gonzalez.

Rojas was kidnapped in February 2002. Gonzalez was captured on Sept. 10, 2001.

[Source: Xinhua News Agency, Caracas, Ven, 02Jan08]

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