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Hostage crisis: Deadline extended

August 01, 2004 14:50 IST
Last Updated: August 01, 2004 15:06 IST

The abductors of three Indians in Iraq have extended the deadline and threatened to execute one of them if their demands are not met by 8.30pm IST Sunday.

"We have been informed by our embassy in Kuwait that according to the Kuwait and Gulf Link transport company, negotiator Sheikh Hisham al-Dulaimi has conveyed to its representative that the hostage-takers have extended the deadline by another 24 hours," Minister of State for External Affairs E Ahamed told reporters in Delhi.

Dulaimi had conveyed that all hostages were safe and were being well-looked after.

"We are encouraged that the deadline has been extended but will appeal to the hostage-takers to remove the deadline so that families of the hostages can be reassured about the welfare of their loved ones," Ahamed said.

The government has decided to facilitate the return of all those Indians working in Iraq if they express a desire to that effect.

Asked whether the government had any confirmation that KGL was pulling out of Iraq, which was one of the demands of the captors, Ahamed said, "We are given to understand all these matters have been settled. The mediators are negotiating some other issues and expect talks to start any time."

The government continued to be 'deeply concerned' about the well-being of the hostages and reiterated its commitment to seek their 'earliest possible and safe release'.

The talks between Dulaimi and KGL representative Mahdi Saleh were expected to commence shortly to find an early solution to the crisis.

India's Ambassador to Oman Talmiz Ahmed, sent to Iraq to help in efforts to seek release of the hostages, had arrived in Baghdad and would be monitoring the situation on a continuous basis and 'give us his evaluation', the minister said.

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