Britain backs France in rejecting kidnap demands

31st August 2004, Comments 0 comments

PRAGUE, Aug 31 (AFP) - British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw expressed support on Tuesday for France's rejection of demands from kidnappers holding two French journalists in Iraq, and said governments should never yield to blackmail.

PRAGUE, Aug 31 (AFP) - British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw expressed support on Tuesday for France's rejection of demands from kidnappers holding two French journalists in Iraq, and said governments should never yield to blackmail.  

"It's not for me to second guess what the French government is doing but the British government's position is that you must never give in to hostage takers or other blackmail as you only end up with a worse situation," Straw told AFP during a visit to Prague.  

He spoke hours before the expiry of an ultimatum from a group calling itself the Islamic Army in Iraq, which has demanded the repeal of a controversial ban on Islamic headscarves in French state school as the price for the release of reporters Georges Malbrunot and Christian Chesnot.  

The two men, who disappeared in Baghdad on August 20, said in a video broadcast by an Arab television station on Monday that they feared for their lives. Their abductors later extended the original deadline of Monday night by 24 hours.  

Straw also said he had sent "an offer of practical support" to French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier, who flew to Jordan on Tuesday after visiting Egypt in an attempt to make contact with the kidnappers through diplomatic channels.  

He declined to reveal details of what form that support could take, but said he had also send "a message of solidarity with the families of the two journalists and the journalists themselves of complete condemnation of the action taken by the hostage takers."  

Barnier has made an impassioned bid to save the lives of the two journalists but his government has vowed not to revoke the law banning the Islamic headscarf in state schools.

 

© AFP

 

Subject: French news

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