- Title: IRAQ: FRENCH DIPLOMATS CONTINUE TALKS TO RELEASE TWO FRENCH HOSTAGES.
- Date: 13th September 2004
- Summary: (W4) BAGHDAD, IRAQ (SEPTEMBER 13, 2004) (REUTERS) 1. GV/MV/PAN: FRENCH AMBASSADOR TO IRAQ BERNARD BAJOLET, ARRIVING AT MOSQUE, GREETING CLERIC AND WALKING INTO MOSQUE (3 SHOTS) 0.42 2. GV/MV/CU: BAJOLET IN TALKS WITH MUSLIM CLERICS (5 SHOTS) 1.06 3. (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) FRENCH AMBASSADOR TO IRAQ BERNARD BAJOLET SAYING: "We have our contacts and we are confident but at the same time we should be patient" 1.21 4. GV/MV/PAN/GV/PAN: BAJOLET LEAVING MUSLIM CLERICS ASSOCIATION, GETTING INTO CAR, CAR DRIVING OFF (3 SHOTS) 1.52 Initials Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
- Embargoed: 28th September 2004 13:00
- Location: BAGHDAD, IRAQ
- Country: Iraq
- Reuters ID: LVA1JJ50BBIJ9SB5R9F1O6Z8V8ZY
- Story Text: French diplomats continue talks to release two
The French ambassador to Iraq on Monday (September
13) held talks at the Muslim Clerics Association on
securing the release of two French journalists held hostage
by Iraqi groups.
Christian Chesnot and Georges Malbrunot have been held
since August 20 despite intense diplomatic efforts to free
French diplomats have have frequent talks with Sunni
clerics at the mosque since the men were taken.
The Muslim Clerics Association was formed after Saddam
Hussein was toppled to regroup the country's Sunni
minority. It has intervened to help secure the release of
journalists who had been kidnapped in Iraq after the U.S.
invasion last year.
France was stunned by the kidnappings because it had
opposed the U.S.-led war in Iraq and has not sent troops to
No sightings of the men have been made since August 28
when Arabic television station Al Jazeera broadcast a brief
video tape of what it said were the two journalists
standing in front of an Islamic Army in Iraq banner.
"We have our contacts and we are confident but at the
same time we should be patient," French ambassador to Iraq,
Bernard Bajolet told reporters after Monday's talks.
Al Jazeera said the kidnappers had demanded the French
government scrap a ban on Muslim headscarves in state
schools. But the French government rejected the demand and
the ban went into force last week.
Raffarin's government had mobilised unprecedented
support from Arab capitals and Islamic groups, and it was
so optimistic about the success of this strategy that
ministers said last weekend the men's release was imminent.
But hopes for a quick release were dented by a surge of
violence in Iraq and the kidnapping on Tuesday (September
7) of two Italian women aid workers in Baghdad.
Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini flew into
Kuwait on Monday to appeal for the release of Italian
hostages ahead of a purported 24-hour deadline by their
captors to kill them unless Italy withdraws forces from
The Italians were seized after the French journalists.
French Interior Minister Dominique de Villepin has told
French radio Europe 1 that the government was mobilised
"day after day, hour after hour" to work towards their
release but he could not confirm or deny if they were still
Since April, guerrillas in Iraq have kidnapped people
from over two dozen countries as part of a campaign to
drive foreigners and firms out. Some 20 foreigners have
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