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Chirac: Two Former French Hostages in Iraq On the Way Home - 2004-12-22


French President Jacques Chirac says two French journalists, freed by Iraqi insurgents Tuesday, are on their way back to Paris.

The announcement came Wednesday shortly after a French air force jet with Foreign Minister Michel Barnier on board left Paris to pick up Christian Chesnot and Georges Malbrunot, who had been kidnapped in August.

Mr. Chirac cut short his vacation in Morocco and returned to Paris to greet the former hostages.

Details of their release in Iraq remain sketchy. But French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin stressed that France did not pay a ransom.

The journalists were abducted while heading south from Baghdad on the road to Najaf. An insurgent group calling itself the Islamic Army of Iraq originally threatened to kill them.

Information for this report is provided by AFP and Reuters.

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