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Husband of hostage Betancourt to look for clues

The husband of hostage Ingrid Betancourt vowed Wednesday to visit jungle villages to hunt for clues to her situation following the failure of a French-led effort to aid her.
Colombia Betancourt
Juan Carlos Lecompte, husband of French-Colombian hostage Ingrid Betancourt, vows Wednesday to visit jungle villages to hunt for clues to her situation after the failure of a French-led effort to help her.Fernando Vergara / AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

The husband of hostage Ingrid Betancourt vowed Wednesday to visit jungle villages to hunt for clues to her situation following the failure of a French-led effort to aid her.

"I want to talk to the people ... to see if she is alive or not, what her state of health is," Juan Carlos Lecompte said after he landed in San Jose del Guaviare, a steamy provincial capital in eastern Colombia.

Lecompte told reporters he would drive to outlying villages to seek information. He said he has not had any contact with the leftist rebels holding her.

There have been unconfirmed sightings of Betancourt in the area, where the rebels, far-right death squads and cocaine producers are common.

A citizen of both France and Colombia, Betancourt was campaigning for Colombia's presidency when she was kidnapped in 2002.

Former hostages who spent time with Betancourt say they believe she has hepatitis B and suffers from depression.

"Her physical condition is extremely weak and it's true that she suffers from liver problems. But we don't know if she has hepatitis," said her ex-husband, Fabrice Delloye, said in Paris on Wednesday.

Chances of a quick release seemed remote after leaders of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, rejected a medical mission led by France and including Switzerland and Spain that sought to treat and possibly rescue her.

epa01308580 Picture released by the High Peace Commissioner Luis Carlos Restrepo at the Casa de Narino, in Bogota, Colombia on early 30 November 2007 of the French - Colombian former presidential candidate Ingrid Betancur in captivity. Leftist rebels of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) said in a statement Tuesday that the medical mission sponsored by France which is seeking to treat an ailing Ingrid Betancourt is \"inappropriate.\" Former Colombian presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt, 46, holds dual French-Colombian citizenship and is the most high-profile hostage held by FARC. She was kidnapped in February 2002, and is reported to be very ill from hepatitis B, leishmaniasis and other problems. EPA/PRESIDENCIA / HANDOUT BEST QUALITY AVAILABLE EDITORIAL USE ONLYPRESIDENCIA

The French jet that brought the mission to Colombia took off from Bogota on Wednesday, headed to the French Caribbean territory of Martinique. It had arrived in the Colombian capital on Thursday.

In a statement posted on the Internet on Tuesday, the FARC said it would not unilaterally release hostages and would only exchange Betancourt and other captives for rebels imprisoned in Colombia and the U.S.

The FARC insists that President Alvaro Uribe demilitarize jungle zones in southwestern Colombia where the two sides could hold talks and eventually swap prisoners for hostages. Uribe has been equally insistent that he will not do so.

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said Paris will not abandon efforts to free Betancourt and that he planned to travel to the region soon.