Sarkozy welcomes hostages' release
French President Nicolas Sarkozy Thursday welcomed the release of two French television journalists held hostage in Afghanistan for 18 months.
"I would like to say how happy we were to welcome this morning our two compatriots, who were detained in such a cowardly and unjust fashion for very long months," he said.
Sarkozy congratulated "all the services" who played a part in freeing cameraman Stephane Taponier and reporter Herve Ghesquiere, "especially the French military".
The president, who was speaking on a visit to southwest France, had earlier greeted the pair as they arrived at a military airbase near Paris.
The 48-year-olds told reporters on the tarmac they had not been mistreated by their captors but gave little away on what prompted their release, days after Sarkozy announced last week that France would begin pulling out hundreds of troops from Afghanistan this year in line with US withdrawals.
French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe denied the men's release was linked to this announcement.
Sarkozy also called on French people to spare a thought for nine other compatriots held hostage in different parts of the world, adding that Paris would do its utmost to secure their return home.
© 2011 AFP