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Iraq coalition vows no more kidnap concessions
Updated: 2004-08-05 08:48

The U.S.-led military coalition in Iraq vowed not to make any more concessions to kidnappers after the Philippines withdrew its troops to release a hostage, the United States said on Wednesday.

In an effort to present a united front against a wave of kidnappings, the United States issued a policy statement that it said was supported by the coalition hoping to send a message to hostage-takers they would not win their demands.

"We understand that conceding to terrorists will only endanger all members of the multinational force, as well as other countries who are contributing to Iraqi reconstruction and humanitarian assistance," the statement said.

The United States has faced an erosion in its coalition this year and insurgents have tested the will of governments to keep troops in Iraq by targeting their citizens with kidnappings and beheadings.

On Wednesday, a released captive said Iraqi gunmen had freed four Jordanian hostages in a raid and Al Jazeera television said two Turkish drivers because their firm agreed to stop working in Iraq.

Kidnappers won the Philippines withdrawal of its roughly 50 troops last month and have forced some foreign companies out.

The statement "is one of the ways we can discourage the practice, by making it clear to the people who are taking hostages that they are not going to gain anything by doing so," State Department spokesman Richard Boucher told reporters.

But the message to kidnappers may be muted because the coalition did not issue a joint statement or seek high-profile media attention. Boucher announced the policy at a regular daily news briefing and said other countries would express similar sentiments.

Italy has been threatened by a military group claiming links to al Qaeda that has demanded Rome withdraw troops from Iraq by Aug. 15 or face attacks. Italy has around 2,700 troops in Iraq.

"The situation was, is, and will remain very serious," a security source said in Rome following a high-level meeting to review security.

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