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12 July 2004 -- Iraqi President Ghazi al-Yawir told reporters in Baghdad today that his country will restore the death penalty and take what he called a "sharp sword" to insurgents.

Al-Yawir promised that amnesty will be granted to any insurgents who stop fighting, but vowed that capital punishment will be reinstated after the offer expires.

Al-Yawir said the amnesty will be officially announced in the next few days.

Al-Yawir made his comments as Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari was visiting with foreign ministers from the European Union in Brussels.

The ministers urged Zebari to stop the use of the death penalty in Iraq, but Zebari would not commit to such a ban.

"We need a deterrence [such as the death penalty] against those elements, especially those who are committing serious crimes or serious terrorist attacks, and as an option, in order to deter those people from carrying out their evil acts," Zebari said.

The death penalty had been suspended under U.S. occupation.

Meanwhile, negotiations for the safe release of one Filipino and two Bulgarians kidnapped in Iraq continue.

The group holding the Filipino is demanding the Philippine government remove its 51 soldiers and policemen from Iraq immediately.

The group holding the two Bulgarians is demanding the U.S. release Iraqi prisoners.

(AFP/Reuters)
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