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Bulgaria, Philippines To Stay The Course In Iraq

9 July 2004 -- Bulgaria and the Philippines say they will not change their policies after insurgents kidnapped their citizens in Iraq.

Arabic television station Al Jazeera broadcast a video of two Bulgarian truck drivers being held captive by masked men. A group loyal to insurgent leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has threatened to kill the two if the U.S. military does not release all Iraqi detainees within 24 hours.

Bulgarian Defense Minister Nikolay Svinarov today called for the men's release, saying they have nothing to do with the government.

"We will try, by all means, including through you [journalists] and also the media available in the Arab world, to show the abductors that these Bulgarian citizens have nothing to do with Bulgarian foreign policy," Svinarov said. "They do not represent it and that they shouldn't be held responsible for it."

In the Philippines, Vice President Noli de Castro said Manila will not be blackmailed by terrorists after another group of militants threatened yesterday to kill a Filipino hostage unless the Philippines withdraws its troops from Iraq.

A Saudi Arabian company whose Egyptian employee was also kidnapped in Iraq said today it would not negotiate for his release.