Freed hostage Betancourt arrives in France | world | Hindustan Times
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Freed hostage Betancourt arrives in France

world Updated: Jul 04, 2008 21:30 IST

AFP
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Freed Colombian politician Ingrid Betancourt was greeted on Friday by President Nicolas Sarkozy after she touched down at an airbase near Paris following her release from a six-year hostage ordeal.

Freed from the grip of Marxist FARC rebels in a Colombian army operation Wednesday, along with three US hostages and 11 Colombians, Betancourt was flown to France from Bogota on board a French presidential plane.

Applause broke out as the 46-year-old, dressed in a dark suit, walked down the steps from the plane to embrace Sarkozy and French first lady Carla Bruni.

She was followed by her daughter Melanie, 22, and son Lorenzo, 19, who were flown to Bogota from Paris on the French government aircraft to be reunited with their mother on Thursday.

Sarkozy made the release of Betancourt, who has dual French-Colombian nationality, a top priority of his presidency.

Betancourt and her family were to join Sarkozy at the Elysee presidential palace later on Friday.

"I owe my life to France. If France hadn't fought for me, I wouldn't be at paris making this extraordinary journey," the 46-year-old politician, who also has French nationality, told reporters on her way to France.

Her family and friends had waged a relentless campaign for their mother's release, making her a cause celebre in France.