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  Tuesday, August 20, 2019
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President of Venezuela Hugo Chavez cancelled on Sunday his visits
President of Venezuela Hugo Chavez cancelled on Sunday his visits to Russia, Belarus and China, scheduled for late February, over a possible release of hostages with his mediation in Colombia.

Local analysts say Chavez's decision is possibly linked to the expected release of three former Colombian congressmen with his mediation. The congressmen were captured by FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) back in 2001.

"The planned visits to Russia, Belarus and China are of strategic importance but I must postpone them for a future," Chavez told national television.

The revolutionary group, considered a terrorist organization by the U.S. and EU, is currently holding around 700 hostages, including three American contractors - Marc Gonsalves, Tom Howes, and Keith Stansell - captured in 2003 and French-Colombian Ingrid Betancourt, who ran for president in Colombia in 2002.

In January two hostages, held captive for six years, were released after talks between the rebels and Chavez.


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