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French Officials, Muslim Leaders Demand Release of Hostages - 2004-08-29


French government officials and Muslim leaders have demanded the release of two French journalists held hostage in Iraq by militants demanding France revoke its ban on Muslim headscarves in schools.

French President Jacques Chirac said Sunday he is doing everything possible to secure the safe release of the reporters (Christian Chesnot and Georges Malbrunot). He said Foreign Minister Michel Barnier is rushing to the Middle East to assist in the crisis.

Meanwhile, a coalition of Muslim leaders met with French Interior Minister Dominique de Villepin in Paris and said France should not negotiate with the militants.

Palestinian President Yasser Arafat also called Sunday for the reporters to be released unharmed.

Meanwhile, two Turkish hostages have been released in Iraq. Their kidnappers had threatened to kill them unless their Turkish employers pulled out of the country.

Information for this report is provided by AP, AFP and Reutes.

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