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Officials Continue Efforts For Release Of Iraq Hostages

10 April 2004 -- Officials from several countries are continuing efforts today to secure the release of their citizens held hostage in Iraq.

Japanese Senior Deputy Foreign Minister Ichiro Aisawa arrived in Jordan to coordinate efforts to rescue three kidnapped Japanese civilians, whose abductors have threatened to burn them alive if Japan does not pull its troops out of Iraq by tomorrow.

"Our goal is to rescue the three hostages, if that means going into Iraq to accomplish that goal, nothing is beyond us. And we will act appropriately to accomplish what needs to be done," Aisawa said.

Palestinian Technology Minister Azzam al-Ahmad said Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat personally intervened to seek the release of up to two Palestinians reportedly abducted by insurgents in Iraq and accused of spying for Israel.

The British Foreign Office said a British civilian consultant also appeared to have been seized in the southern town of Al-Nasiriyah yesterday. And Australian television today showed footage of what appeared to be a U.S. civilian held hostage after an attack on a convoy yesterday.