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Jordanian Firm To Cease Operations In Iraq

27 July 2004 -- The head of a Jordanian firm working for the U.S. military in Iraq said today he will cease all operations in the country to secure the release of two kidnapped employees. Hostage takers had threatened to decapitate the two Jordanian truck drivers unless the company ceases operations in Iraq.

In other developments, the governments of Egypt, Kenya, and Pakistan today made fresh appeals for the release of their kidnapped citizens in Iraq.

One group of kidnappers has threatened to kill three Kenyans, three Indians, and an Egyptian hostage if their Kuwaiti employer does not pull out of Iraq. A different group has vowed to kill its two Pakistani hostages because they were working with U.S. forces in Iraq.

Meanwhile, it was announced today that about 1,000 representatives from all walks of Iraqi life will gather in Baghdad on 31 July for a conference. Fouad Massoum, the conference's organizer, says the group will choose a 100-member interim National Council to serve as a check on the current interim government until elections next year.