Thursday, 29 January 2004

Questions (102)

John Gormley

Question:

99 Mr. Gormley asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will avail of the Irish Presidency of the EU to support the idea of talks between FARC and the United Nations or the French Government to find a humanitarian resolution for over 800 hostages held in Colombia; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2622/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Foreign)

At its meeting on 26 January 2004 the General Affairs and External Relations Council, GAERC, adopted conclusions setting out the European Union's policy in relation to Colombia. The council reiterated its full support for President Uribe's commitment to seek a negotiated solution to the internal armed conflict, including through direct engagement with those illegal armed groups who may be prepared to negotiate a peace agreement. The council insisted that the illegal armed groups cease all hostilities and engage in constructive and meaningful dialogue. In particular, while acknowledging the recent release of some hostages, the council underlined the importance of a rapid release of all remaining hostages and kidnapped persons. Such an act of humanitarian character by the illegal armed groups could be undertaken in the framework of a humanitarian agreement, and would give a positive signal of their intention to take the path of peace.