An Italian newspaper says Italy's defense minister has ruled out a troop withdrawal from Afghanistan as demanded by the kidnappers of an Italian photojournalist.

The Italian daily La Stampa reported Thursday that Defense Minister Arturo Parisi says the troops will stay in Afghanistan despite the new demand.

Kidnappers who seized Italian photojournalist Gabriele Torsello in Afghanistan last week issued the demand late Wednesday.

Previously, the abductors said they would release Torsello if Italian authorities returned an Afghan convert to Christianity who was granted asylum in Italy.

Torsello was kidnapped in Helmand province last week.  Authorities blamed the abduction on the Taleban, but the radical Islamist group denies any involvement.

In Rome, the Foreign Ministry said it was working for the release of the photographer.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.