"We don’t negotiate with kidnappers"

21st March 2007, Comments 0 comments

21 March 2007, AMSTERDAM – The Dutch government does not negotiate with people who take Dutch nationals hostage abroad. Every Dutch national would be easy prey if that were the case, said Foreign Affairs Minister Maxime Verhagen during a press conference at the NATO headquarters in Kabul today.

21 March 2007

AMSTERDAM – The Dutch government does not negotiate with people who take Dutch nationals hostage abroad. Every Dutch national would be easy prey if that were the case, said Foreign Affairs Minister Maxime Verhagen during a press conference at the NATO headquarters in Kabul today.

His comment came in response to the abduction of an Italian journalist by the Taliban. After almost two weeks of being held hostage, the man and his interpreter were finally released recently in exchange for five Taliban prisoners.

Verhagen denies that these Taliban members were released however; he says they were "handed over to Italian authorities." The minister did not want to comment further on the matter.

Verhagen's statement is striking however. Last week a court in Switzerland ruled that Artsen zonder Grenzen (AZG), the Dutch branch of Médecins Sans Frontières, would not have to repay the Netherlands the ransom money paid for Arjan Erkel.

The Netherlands was claiming EUR 750,000 from the organisation because the state said it had only paid this amount as an advance on the ransom money that AZG needed for Erkel's release. AZG itself paid less than EUR 230,000 for Erkel's release.

Verhagen's predecessor Ben Bot insisted that the Netherlands had only paid in order to help out AZG and started a court case against the organisation's headquarters.

But AZG says that the verdict seems to indicate that the court does in fact regard the Netherlands as responsible for the negotiations and thus also for the ransom money. The court's reasoning has not been made public however.

[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2007]

Subject: Dutch news

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