Proposal by Chavez to mediate is “thorny and difficult” issue, says Colombian bishop

.- The secretary general of the Bishops’ Conference of Colombia, Bishop Fabian Marulanda Lopez said this week the proposal by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to mediate in Colombia’s civil conflict “thorny and difficult.” Chavez has suggested Colombian President Alvaro Uribe demilitarize a portion of the area of Caguan-Caqueta in the Amazon in order to meet with the leader of the FARC, Manuel Marulanda Velez.

Bishop Lopez called Chavez’s suggestion “contrary to the policies of the government,” which has been very clear in refusing to demilitarize any part of the country for discussions about the release of hostages.  “If there is a desire to help Colombia, these kinds of meetings could take place outside the country,” Bishop Lopez said.

Referring to Chavez’s comments that President Nicolas Sarkozy of France would also be involved in his proposal, Bishop Lopez responded that the French president has only appeared interested “in rescuing Ingrid Betancourt, but I don’t see him committed to definitively combating kidnapping and to advocating for the release of all of the kidnapped in Colombia.”

Bishop Marulanda said the Church would continue to be willing to help achieve a humanitarian agreement but without taking a lead role.

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