Hope for kidnapped French reporters: Barnier

20th October 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Oct 20 (AFP) - Officials in Paris reiterated Wednesday their cautious optimism that two French reporters and their Syrian driver held hostage in Iraq may be freed, as trucks bearing their pictures criss-crossed the city.

PARIS, Oct 20 (AFP) - Officials in Paris reiterated Wednesday their cautious optimism that two French reporters and their Syrian driver held hostage in Iraq may be freed, as trucks bearing their pictures criss-crossed the city.

The government has "the feeling that the liberation of Christian Chesnot, Georges Malbrunot and their Syrian driver remains possible," Foreign Minister Michel Barnier said after a weekly meeting of political leaders on the hostages' fate.

"We are continuing efforts ... with patience, tenacity and discretion," he said.

Chesnot, of Radio France International, and Malbrunot, of Le Figaro newspaper, were abducted south of Baghdad on August 20 with their driver, Mohammed al-Jundi.

The French government said last week that indirect contacts had been made with the kidnappers following a failed unofficial bid in September to free the reporters led by a lawmaker in President Jacques Chirac's ruling party.

The Paris-based lobby group for media rights Reporters Sans Frontieres held a small demonstration in the centre of the capital to mark the two months the hostages have been held.

Al-Jundi's sister and brother-and-law, both Paris residents, were among the 50 people who attended.

"I am sure that he will be freed healthy and in good shape, because the Iraqi resistance understands France's policy situation," the brother-in-law, Ali Merhebi, said.

He added that he believed the hostages were handed over to "secular groups of the Iraqi resistance" two weeks ago and were in no imminent danger.

Eight trucks bearing pictures of the three and a photograph of three empty chairs over the words "Free the hostages" drove around Paris to spread the message.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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