Italy's government says an Italian journalist kidnapped in Afghanistan several days ago is still alive.

A Foreign Ministry statement Saturday said officials have reason to believe missing journalist Daniele Mastrogiacomo is alive, but it did not offer details.

Italian officials had previously demanded that the Taleban provide proof that Mastrogiacomo had not been killed before any negotiations could begin.

The Taleban says it captured Mastrogiacomo in Helmand province on Monday. Insurgents say the reporter has confessed to being a spy.

The journalist's newspaper, La Repubblica, has categorically denied the charge.

Earlier in the week, Italy's lower house of parliament voted in favor of keeping the country's military contingent in Afghanistan.

The lower house Thursday approved a measure that refinances the mission. It now goes to the Senate for final approval.

The government has 1,800 troops in Afghanistan as part of a NATO force.

Some information for this report provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.