France seeks talks with Qaeda kidnappers: Sarkozy's office

26th September 2010, Comments 0 comments

France repeated Sunday that it was ready to negotiate with an Al-Qaeda gang that abducted five French nationals in Niger and took them to neighbouring Mali.

President Nicolas Sarkozy's office said France had not yet been in contact with Al-Qaeda but was "ready to talk to the kidnappers."

A Sarkozy aide added that the five French, along with a Togolese and a Madagascan hostage, had been taken to the hilly desert zone of Timetrine in the far north of Mali near the Algerian border.

France said on Friday it had no plans to use force to rescue the hostages and wanted to negotiate with the militant group.

Paris has deployed an 80-strong military intelligence unit and spotter planes to the Sahara to try to track the gang down, but officials have thus far played down the likelihood of a military rescue mission.

© 2010 AFP

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