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UK PM Calls For Immediate Release Of Iraq Hostages


PM calls for "immediate release" of Iraq hostages

The Prime Minister has called for the immediate release of five hostages seized in Iraq six months ago.

Speaking in a televised statement earlier today, Mr Brown said his first thoughts are with the five hostages and their families who have endured "an enormous amount" since the men were taken in May.

He thanked them for their bravery and resilience and pledged to do "everything in our power to secure what is our objective, and that is the immediate release of the hostages".

The four security guards and one computer expert were taken in a finance ministry building in Baghdad by aductors dressed as Iraqi police. A videotape of the captives was broadcast on Tuesday.

Britain's policy in Iraq would not change "in any way" the PM said. British troops in Basra and the surrounding area have recently moved from a combat role to "overwatch".

Mr Brown said:

"I want the hostage-takers to accept their responsibilities, to understand the consequences of what they are doing, to make possible the immediate release of the hostages to allow them to come home at the earliest opportunity.

"And we will continue to do everything in our power, working with the Iraqi government, to make sure that the taking of hostages is unacceptable and we are demanding their immediate release."

***

FULL STATEMENT

My first thoughts are with the five hostages and with their families who have endured an enormous amount over these last six months and I want to thank them for their bravery and for their resilience. And we will do everything in our power to secure what is our objective, and that is the immediate release of the hostages.

Prime Minister Maliki and his Ministers and others are doing a tremendous amount to secure the release of the hostages and I want to thank them for what they have done and we will give them every support that is possible.

The taking of hostages is completely unjustified, wholly unacceptable and we are making it absolutely clear that it will not change our policy in any way, a policy which in any case over the last few months has been to move from combat to overwatch in the Province of Basra and in the surrounding area where we have responsibility.

I want the hostage-takers to accept their responsibilities, to understand the consequences of what they are doing, to make possible the immediate release of the hostages to allow them to come home at the earliest opportunity and we will continue to do everything in our power, working with the Iraqi government, to make sure that the taking of hostages is unacceptable and we are demanding their immediate release.

ENDS

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