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Italian Foreign Minister Says Italy Will Not Negotiate with Kidnappers - 2004-04-14


Italy's Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said Wednesday there will be no negotiation with the kidnappers of four Italians held hostage in Iraq. He also urged other countries to join the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq to help improve the difficult situation there.

Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said the situation in Iraq is increasingly serious, and countries which have not yet joined the coalition should do so. Mr. Frattini said he would push for a new U.N. resolution when he travels to Washington next week.

The Italian diplomat was addressing the foreign and defense parliamentary committees on the situation in Iraq after four Italian nationals were taken hostage.

Mr. Frattini made clear Italy is not prepared to negotiate with the kidnappers for the release of its nationals who worked for a private U.S. security company in Iraq. He said Italy is looking for possible ways to secure the release of the hostages but without giving in to blackmail.

Mr. Frattini added that kidnappings and blackmail are the criminal acts of terrorists, which leave no space for negotiation. He says a high-level delegation from Iran was headed to Baghdad to secure the release of all foreign hostages without conditions.

The Italian hostages are security officials captured by Iraqi militants from a group calling itself the Green brigade of the Prophet. The Italians disappeared from the city of Fallujah.

The kidnappers have demanded a public apology for Italy's treatment of Muslims and the withdrawal of Italian troops from Iraq. Mr. Frattini said Wednesday the withdrawal of Italian troops was unimaginable.

Italy has around 3000 soldiers deployed in the southern Iraqi city of Nassiriyah for reconstruction efforts.

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