No nuke concession for Belgian's release
17 September 2007, BRUSSELS (AFP) - Belgian Foreign Minister Karel De Gucht said Sunday that no ransom had been paid and no nuclear concessions made to Tehran to secure the release of a Belgian held by Iranian bandits for over a month.
17 September 2007
BRUSSELS (AFP) - Belgian Foreign Minister Karel De Gucht said Sunday that no ransom had been paid and no nuclear concessions made to Tehran to secure the release of a Belgian held by Iranian bandits for over a month.
"No ransom has been paid and I have not compromised on my stand," De Gucht told Belgian television channel RTL-TVI after arriving in Brussels on Sunday with 28-year-old Stefan Boeve.
Boeve, held by bandits for 34 days, was released on Thursday evening.
Drug traffickers had seized the tourist and his travelling companion Carla Van den Eeckhout, 37, in the notoriously dangerous Sistan-Baluchestan province in southeast Iran on 23 August.
Van den Eeckhout was released two days later.
De Gucht has said that Belgium would contribute EUR 500,000 to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, although he has stressed this was not a payoff for the release.
The donation was to thank Iran for its role in fighting drug trafficking, he said.
"We did not directly negotiate" with the suspected kidnappers," De Gucht said on Friday, although the abductors had contacted the victim's family eight times.
Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt has welcomed Boeve's release and thanked the Iranian authorities for their help.
The Belgian foreign minister said Sunday he had told his Iranian counterpart Manuchehr Mottaki again that Brussels, like other European Union nations, wanted Tehran to immediately halt uranium enrichment.
The UN Security Council has issued two sanctions resolutions against Tehran for its refusal to suspend uranium enrichment, a process that can be used to make nuclear weapons, and Western powers have warned of more action.
The United States has never ruled out using military strikes to punish Iran for its defiance and Defence Secretary Robert Gates said Sunday that "all options are on the table."
[Copyright AFP 2007]
Subject: Belgian news