Annan welcomes release of 250 soldiers held hostage in Colombia

27 June 2001

Secretary-General Kofi Annan today welcomed the announcement by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) that it would release more than 250 soldiers and policemen, some of whom had been held hostage for close to three years.

At the same time, the Secretary-General voiced his continuing concern about the increasing violence affecting the unarmed civilian population and by threats that fighting could spread further into urban areas, a spokesman for Mr. Annan said in a statement.

It was the Secretary-General's hope, the spokesman said, that the release of imprisoned troops, which was scheduled to take place on Thursday, would be a step towards greater confidence and concrete agreements in ongoing peace talks between the Government of Colombia and the FARC.

"In particular, the Secretary-General wishes to underscore the international community's call to the parties, as a matter of priority, to conclude agreements on respect for human rights and international humanitarian law," the statement said.


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