French President Jacques Chirac
makes a speech aired by the LCI television in Paris, December 22, 2004.
Chirac said the two French journalists kidnapped in Iraq have been
released and are on their way back to Paris.
PARIS, Dec. 22 (Xinhuanet) -- French Prime Minister
Jean-Pierre Raffarin is understood to have told French lawmakers Wednesday that
France paid no ransom for the release of two French journalists kidnapped in
According to Communist Party senator Nicole Borvo, Raffarin told a meeting
at his residence in Matignon that there was neither a demand for nor payment of
"He was very clear. We can consider this to be the word of the prime
minister," said Borvo.
Christian Chesnot, 37, of Radio France Internationale and Georges
Malbrunot, 41, of Le Figaro, were kidnapped on Aug. 20 south of Baghdad by a
group calling itself the "Islamic Army of Iraq."
Paris had rejected the group's demand that a headscarf ban be revoked in
French public schools.
They were released "because they were proven not to have spied for US
forces", the Arabic language Al-Jazeera satellite TV said, quoting a statement
from the Islamic group.
The release was also instigated by appeals and demands from Islamic
institutions, in appreciation of the French government's stand on the Iraq issue
and because of the two journalists' standson the Palestinian cause, the
The two men were freed on Tuesday and left Baghdad Wednesday morning en
route to Paris with a stopover in Cyprus. Enditem
French determined to fight terrorism: Chirac
PARIS, Dec. 22 (Xinhuanet) -- French President
Jacques Chirac on Wednesday said that France will continue to be iron-willed to
oppose all forms of terrorism, hailing the release of two French journalists
held hostage in Iraq since August 20.
"We owe their liberation to the mobilization and the solidarityof all the
French people, to whom I want to pay homage," Chirac said in a speech aired by
French LCI television.
"We owe it to the force with which the nation is gathering together, in its
diversity, to affirm its cohesion, its solidarityand its values. We owe it to
the responsible and tenacious action of the government and the whole services
that are mobilized with devotion and efficiency," he added.
He also expressed France's iron-willed determination to fight terrorism.
"United around its values and strong in its unity, France will continue to
be iron-willed to oppose all forms of terrorism. Everywhere, it will continue to
defend human rights, support the freedom of people and work tirelessly for
peace, democracy and solidarity," Chirac said.
The French president also thanked all public authorities, all political and
religious officials in France as in the rest of the world, who, in an
exceptional surge of solidarity, brought their cooperation and support to gain
the release of the two French journalists.
The two journalists, Christian Chesnot and Georges Malbrunot, "are now on
their way to Paris," he said.
According to French presidential Elysee palace, the two journalists had
left Wednesday morning Baghdad and will arrive around 1700 GMT at the
Villacoublay military air base in the southwester suburb of Paris after a
stopover in Cyprus, where theywould be picked up by French Foreign Minister
Michel Barnier and some of their relatives.
Chirac broke off his vacation started Monday in Morocco when heheard of the
release on Tuesday and he was to welcome the two journalists in the Villacoublay
air base late Wednesday in person,his office said.
The release came four months after Christian Chesnot of Radio France
Internationale and Georges Malbrunot of Le Figaro newspaperwere kidnapped on
Aug. 20 by a group calling itself the "Islamic Army of Iraq" when heading to the
southern Iraqi city of Najaf, together with their Arab driver.
France later dismissed the demand of the group to revoke the headscarf ban
in public schools.
They were released "because they were proven not to spy for US forces, in
response to appeals and demands from Islamic institutions and bodies, and in
appreciation of the French government's stand on the Iraq issue and the two
journalists' stand on the Palestinian cause," the Arab-language Al-Jazeera
satellite TV quoted the Islamic group as saying in a statement. Enditem