Colombia approves Venezuelan mission to pick up 3 rebel hostages

Colombia agreed on Wednesday to allow Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to send his planes and helicopters into its territory to pick up three hostages including a mother and her young son who have been held for years by leftist rebels. Chavez said he hopes the operation would be completed "in the coming hours," and if all goes well, the hostages could be on Venezuelan soil by sundown Thursday. Colombia said it authorized the mission, and Foreign Minister Fernando Araujo, after conferring with his President Alvaro Uribe, thanked Chavez in particular for his efforts. Araujo said his government was appointing Colombia's top peace negotiator, Luis Carlos Restrepo, as its delegate to an international commission of observers to oversee the hostages' liberation.