.- Following an announcement by Colombian president Alvaro Uribe to allow the participation of the Catholic Church in negotiations for the release of some hostages held by the rebel group FARC, President of the Colombian Bishopsâ Conference Archbishop Ruben Salazar called for the liberation of "absolutely all the hostages," so that nobody will "continue to be held in the jungle."
Speaking with reporters at the bishopsâ plenary assembly, Archbishop Salazar said the release of all hostages "would be a great gesture of good will on their part (the FARC) that would imply that they are listening to the cry of the country for an end to kidnappings and the release of all the hostages."
The archbishop said the announcement by President Uribe is "a very important step towards the release of the hostages. The liberation of them is something very important for the country."
He went on to say there are no specifics yet about the nature of the Churchâs involvement in the release of hostages, or about the motives behind Uribeâs announcement.
Bishop Fabian Marulanda Lopez, secretary general of the bishopsâ conference, called the announcement both hopeful and "a step forward." "I hope the FARC accepts this proposal by the president and does everything possible to release the hostages they are holding."