Frustrated Venezuela accepts Colombian talks over

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CARACAS, Nov 22 (Reuters) Venezuela said today it accepted the ''sovereign'' decision of Colombia to end President Hugo Chavez's role as a mediator seeking to free rebel-held hostages, although it expressed frustration at the move.

Colombia yesterday called off the mediation with the FARC rebels after complaining the Venezuelan overstepped his bounds by contacting a Colombian military general about the hostages and by publicly revealing details of negotiating positions.

''The government of Venezuela accepts this sovereign decision by the government of Colombia, but expresses its frustration given that in this manner the process that was being carried out with determination has been aborted,'' the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The break-off is a blow to Chavez, who had burnished his credentials as a statesman by working for weeks to talk to the FARC guerrillas over freeing a French-Colombian politician and three US defense contractors held for years in jungle camps.

REUTERS TB BST0137

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