London, Asharq Al-Awsat- The fate of the five British nationals kidnapped in Iraq was an issue of discussion between Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and his British counterpart Gordon Brown before the former’s return to Baghdad yesterday morning.
The British prime minister’s office announced yesterday that Brown and Al-Maliki denounced the airing of a tape showing one of the Britons detained since last May which “Al-Arabiyah” channel broadcast the night before. The British Government’s spokesman said “the (British) prime minister is in close contact with Prime Minister Al-Maliki about this issue. They discussed it again in a telephone contact between them yesterday.” He added that “the two officials expressed their regret at the holding of hostages and their public display and agreed to continue their close cooperation for their release the earliest the possible.”
The kidnappers of the five British nationals demanded the release of nine Iraqis detained by the British forces in the tape which was aired yesterday. The hostage shown in the tape said his name is Peter Moore and has been held for almost eight months, which suggests the tape was recorded before one month since he was kidnapped last May. The tape showed a statement under the name of the “Islamic Shiite Resistance in Iraq” demanding the release of nine Iraqis who have been held, according to this group, by the British forces for a year. The five British nationals were kidnapped in Baghdad by dozens of men wearing the uniforms of Iraqi police’s special units who broke into a building belonging to the Iraqi Finance Ministry. The hostages are four employees of the Canadian “Garda World” company and a British financial expert who is an employee of the American management company Bearing point which works for the US Government to improve the Iraqi economy. The identities of the kidnapped were not disclosed.
The British Government refrained from making many statements about the kidnapped nationals in Iraq as part of its efforts to resolve the crisis away from the media escalation. It is recalled that there is a sixth British national held in Basra for weeks. The Briton, who is a journalist working for the American “CBS” news, was kidnapped with his Iraqi translator who was released before two weeks.
Brown and Al-Maliki talked on the telephone during the latter’s presence in London for medical tests whose results were positive. The Iraqi prime minister decided to return to Iraq three days after staying in the British capital for the tests whose nature was not disclosed. It is recalled that he met Brown in London in January when he was also undergoing medical tests.