Chavez May Help Hostages In Columbia

In this photo released by Miraflores Press Office, New Mexico Governor, Bill Richardson, left, shakes hands with Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez before a meeting at the Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas, Saturday, April 26, 2008. Richardson turned to President Chavez for help in pressing for the release of three Americans held hostage by Colombian rebels. Three U.S. defense contractors, Marc Gonsalves, Thomas Howes and Keith Stansell, have been held by the FARC rebels since their plane went down in rebel-held jungles in February 2003.
AP PHOTO
New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson says Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is "disposed to help" three American hostages who are being held captive by rebels in Colombia.

Richardson says he had a "very productive meeting" with Chavez on the issue Saturday night.

The Democratic governor is in Venezuela not as an official envoy but at the request of the hostages' families. The former U.S. presidential candidate and energy secretary has experience as a troubleshooter in other countries.

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia captured the three American defense contractors when their plane crashed in the Colombian jungle in February 2003. Richardson also has expressed concern for other hostages including French-Colombian captive Ingrid Betancourt.