Iraqi interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi says his government will not bow to the demands of hostage-takers in Iraq who have beheaded two Americans and are threatening to kill a British captive.
The militants have demanded that authorities free all female detainees held by U.S. - led coalition forces.
The U.S. military says it is holding two women accused of involvement in Saddam Hussein's weapons programs.
British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw and U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell have both said that negotiating with militants would only encourage other would-be hostage-takers.
The militants have released a video showing their British hostage pleading for his life.
Separately, Italian authorities have dismissed as "unreliable" claims that two female Italian hostages in Iraq have been killed.
Information for this report is provided by AP and Reuters.