Blair backs French handling of hostage crisis

7th September 2004, Comments 0 comments

LONDON, Sept 7 (AFP) - British Prime Minister Tony Blair Tuesday expressed strong support with French efforts to win the release of two Frenchmen held hostage in Iraq.

LONDON, Sept 7 (AFP) - British Prime Minister Tony Blair Tuesday expressed strong support with French efforts to win the release of two Frenchmen held hostage in Iraq.  

"I support very much what President (Jacques) Chirac is doing, what the French people are doing in trying to secure the release of the hostages," Blair said at a news conference here.  

"I hope that succeeds, it certainly should succeed," Blair said.  

When asked if the French may have underestimated the threat to their nationals in Iraq after opposing the US and British invasion of Iraq in March 2003, he replied: "I don't really think it's helpful to rerun who was right or wrong in that context."  

He added: "We all know the threat terrorism poses in France and elsewhere."   Christian Chesnot, 37, of Radio France Internationale, Georges Malbrunot, 41, of the daily Le Figaro and their Syrian driver were taken hostage on August 20.  

A statement purportedly from the Islamic Army of Iraq posted on an Islamist website on Monday gave France 48 hours to accept three new conditions for their release: agreeing to a recent truce offer by Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, payment of USD 5 million ransom and a pledge not to get involved in Iraq.

© AFP

 

Subject: French News

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