Aubenas kidnappers in 'periodic' contact

3rd May 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, May 3 (AFP) - French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin said Tuesday that his government was still in contact with the kidnappers of a French reporter and her Iraqi interpreter, but that talks were sporadic.

PARIS, May 3 (AFP) - French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin said Tuesday that his government was still in contact with the kidnappers of a French reporter and her Iraqi interpreter, but that talks were sporadic.  

Qualifying the negotiations as "a difficult dialogue in a particularly dangerous situation," Raffarin said contacts were "stabilized but periodic, long, sometimes interrupted by long periods of silence but each time renewed".  

He told lawmakers in the lower-house National Assembly: "But I want to believe that as long as this dialogue is established, there is hope. All government services are mobilized."  

Florence Aubenas, a correspondent for the left-wing French daily Liberation, and her Iraqi interpreter Hussein Hanun al-Saadi went missing after leaving her Baghdad hotel on January 5.  

The veteran reporter made a desperate plea for help in a video released on March 1. She has not been seen since.   Raffarin did not say on Tuesday, World Press Freedom Day, whether Paris had any recent proof that Aubenas and her interpreter were still alive.  

But Liberation founder Serge July said after a meeting with Raffarin that the government had "good reasons to believe that she is alive without having concrete proof, which the kidnappers apparently have refused to give".  

Earlier in the day, Aubenas's mother Jacqueline told reporters she was a "tired woman" but a "tireless mother", adding that she was convinced that her daughter was still alive.  

"Florence is alive. The French government is working on this. Because you are here, because of this international support, Florence is protected. We have to believe in her freedom and in her release," she told a press conference.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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