Iraqi President Jalal Talabani condemned the kidnapping of a German woman in remarks printed Thursday, pledging he would do what he could to secure her release. Susanne Osthoff and her Iraqi driver were seized last Friday, and were pictured in a videotape blindfolded on a floor, with militants, one armed with a rocket propelled grenade, standing beside them. The militants are reportedly demanding that Germany cease its dealings with Talabani's government or they will kill the hostages. Germany was an ardent opponent of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq and has refused to send troops there, but has been training Iraqi soldiers and police outside the country.
"I deeply abhor this act of terror, and give my deepest sympathy and solidarity to the family and friends of those kidnapped," Talabani was quoted as saying by Germany's Neue Osnabruecker Zeitung.
"We will work with the German government in every conceivable way to release Susanne Osthoff from captivity as a hostage."
Meanwhile Wolfgang Bosbach, a senior member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats, said the incident shows that Germany is not immune from terrorism.
"It would be fatal to think, simply because we were not militarily involved in the Iraq war, that we're on the safe side," Bosbach told the Netzeitung. "Therefore we must not diminish our efforts in the fight against international terrorism,” reports the AP. I.L.
Presidential candidate Ksenia Sobchak, who was accredited for the press conference by Vladimir Putin from Dozhd (Rain) television channel, asked Putin about competition at the coming election