Britain's Straw voices concern for French hostages

3rd September 2004, Comments 0 comments

VALKENBURG, Netherlands, Sept 3 (AFP) - British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw on Friday expressed concern about the fate of two French journalists held hostage in Iraq, saying he was hoping against hope for their release .

VALKENBURG, Netherlands, Sept 3 (AFP) - British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw on Friday expressed concern about the fate of two French journalists held hostage in Iraq, saying he was hoping against hope for their release .  

"We hope against hope that these two French journalists will be released and we pray that this will happen," Straw said on the sidelines of an informal EU foreign ministers meeting in the Netherlands.  

French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier was in the Jordan capital Amman Friday waiting for the release of Christian Chesnot and Georges Malbrunot, and did therefore not attend the meeting.  

Dutch Foreign Minister Bernard Bot, whose country currently chairs the 25-nation European Union said, "We are in contact with Mr Barnier about that issue and I hope that he will be here tonight with good news.   

"But we have to wait and not come to quick conclusions," he added. "I have high hopes that of course first of all the two French journalists will be released."   

An aide to Barnier had told AFP earlier Friday in Amman: "We are holding a working meeting. There is an operational team with the minister and we are in permanent contact with Baghdad and Paris."  

But he declined to comment further on the optimism which emerged late Thursday when several French officials, including Barnier, reported that Chesnot and Malbrunot were alive.  

The pair were kidnapped by the self-styled Islamic Army in Iraq on August 20 along with their driver.  

The group issued a demand that France repeal a controversial law that bans the wearing of the Islamic headscarf in French state schools.  

Chesnot and Malbrunot warned in a video shown on Arabic television station Al-Jazeera that they faced death if France failed to revoke the law, but it became effective Thursday.

 

© AFP

 

Subject: French news

 

 

 

 

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