Source Pravda.Ru

Australians want to see Douglas Wood safe

A small band of protesters has gathered outside the Prime Minister's Sydney office to call for the release of Australian hostage Douglas Wood and the withdrawal of &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/world/2003/02/10/43192.html ' target=_blank>Australian troops from Iraq. Greens Senator Kerry Nettle says John Howard is not listening to his constituents.

Senator Nettle says Australians want to see Douglas Wood safe and Australian troops brought home, tells ABC News. According to Wood has not been heard of since he was shown on a video, released two days ago, pleading for his life surrounded by armed, masked militants.

Australia's Defence Minister &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/cis/2002/07/19/32869.html ' target=_blank>Robert Hill, who returned Wednesday from a visit to Iraq said he was not confident Wood, a resident of California, would be released alive.

A high level team of Australian defence, police and political officers arrived in Iraq Tuesday night to try to secure Wood's release.

U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan has also pledged to help the Australian negotiators following a request from Downer. Downer told Al Jazeera that the government had little information about the kidnapping or the conditions of Wood's detention.

Australian Prime Minister &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/war/2003/03/27/45146.html ' target=_blank>John Howard reiterated Tuesday that while everything would be done to free Wood, the Australian Government would not pay a ransom or remove its troops from Iraq. Under the Howard government, Australia has been a strong supporter of the Bush administration and has contributed forces and equipment to the campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq.