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Last Updated:1/28/03
Excerpt from State Department daily briefing, January 24, 2003

Daily Press Briefing
Richard Boucher, Spokesman
Washington, DC
January 24, 2003

QUESTION: I have information from Columbia that some US officials are participating in negotiations to the delivery of the two US journalists. Could you confirm that and also if the US State Department, say, is supporting these negotiations with paramilitary groups after that?

MR. BOUCHER: Let me update you on the situation about the two missing journalists that, as you know, the ELN, the National Liberation Army, has announced that it took those two persons hostage. One is identified as an American citizen photographer and the other is a British citizen journalist.

We are greatly concerned about their welfare. We are urging their immediate release. I cannot talk anymore about the individuals -- but just say that we are working with Columbian authorities and others regarding the case and I have to leave it at that for the moment.

QUESTION: Anything on the others?

MR. BOUCHER: The other three have been released. The three that were picked up -- taken hostage by the AUC have been released. We are working with the Government of Colombia. Our Embassy officials in Bogotá are working with the Government of Colombia to ensure their safe return to the United States. We have been in contact with the families, but also I don't have a Privacy Act Waiver to talk anymore about their own particular situations.



QUESTION: But they are supporting negotiations with paramilitary groups?

MR. BOUCHER: We said, I think the Secretary said when he was down in Colombia, when President Uribe had just gotten a letter and was considering his response that we thought it was up to the Government of Colombia to decide what to do.

It was important to stop the activities of these groups, to stop the terrorism that comes from various groups of different political persuasions. So we have supported the Colombian Government's decisions in that regard -- of whatever they think they need to do.

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