Berlusconi says Italy helped to freeFrench hostages

3rd September 2004, Comments 0 comments

ROME, Sept 3 (AFP) - Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said on Friday that his government had contributed to efforts to secure the release of two French journalists held hostage by Islamists in Iraq.

ROME, Sept 3 (AFP) - Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said on Friday that his government had contributed to efforts to secure the release of two French journalists held hostage by Islamists in Iraq.  

"We have worked a lot and in all possible directions," Berlusconi told a press conference, as French diplomats and Muslim clerics in Iraq expressed optimism that the pair would be released soon.  

"The French side also made use of our help. I hope we made a very important contribution," he said, without giving further details.  

The French journalists have been held hostage in Iraq for two weeks by Islamic militants who are demanding that Paris revoke a ban on the wearing of headscarves in state schools.  

Berlusconi was responding to a question about what Rome had done to obtain the release of Italian journalist Enzo Baldoni, who was kidnapped by the same group and executed on August 26.  

The Italian government has come under fire over Baldoni's death, with critics comparing Rome's failure to save him with the high-profile campaign led by France to bring about the release of its two reporters.  

The Corriere della Sera newspaper reported recently that Italian intelligence officials had identified several members of the group, which calls itself the Islamic Army in Iraq.

 

© AFP

 

Subject: French news

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