Sarkozy declines to give date for hostages in Afghanistan

24th September 2010, Comments 0 comments

French President Nicolas Sarkozy refused to confirm the hopes raised by his military chief on a December release for the two journalists held hostage in Afghanistan, their support group said Friday.

"The president has been very careful and has not given a date for the liberation of our friends," the support group's spokesman Richard Coffin said after its members met with Sarkozy for the first time since the kidnapping nine months ago.

"I will not commit myself to give set dates, France continues to work over there for the liberation of our colleagues," Coffin said the president had told them.

Earlier in the day, France's top officer had raised hopes that the two men, Stephane Taponier and Herve Ghesquiere, could be home for December 25.

Admiral Edouard Guillaud, France's head of military staff told Europe 1 radio. "We've been able to speak to them by telephone and we have other proofs of life that show they are coping bravely with the shock."

Asked if the reporters might be home in time for Christmas with their families, the admiral said: "That's a reasonable hope, yes."

Stephane Taponier and Herve Ghesquiere, a reporter and a cameraman for the state-owned television channel France 3, were kidnapped in Afghanistan on December 30 last year in an area rife with anti-government insurgents.

© 2010 AFP

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