Secret talks in Jordan try to win release of hostages

Updated: 2015-01-28 09:33


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Secret talks in Jordan try to win release of hostages

Iraqi Sajida al-Rishawi stands inside a military court at Juwaida prison in Amman in this April 24, 2006 file photo. [Photo/Agencies]

"In this extremely tough situation, we are continuing as before to request the cooperation of the Jordanian government to work toward the immediate release of Mr. Goto," Suga said.

Mentioning the Jordanian pilot for the first time, on Monday Nakayama expressed hopes the two hostages would return home "with a smile on their faces."

Mu'ath al-Kaseasbeh has been held by after his Jordanian F-16 crashed near the group's de facto capital of Raqqa in December. It wasn't immediately clear when the pilot's possible release had entered into the negotiations.

The 26-year-old Jordanian is the first foreign military pilot to fall into the extremists' hands since an US-led coalition that includes Jordan began its aerial campaign against the Islamic State group in August.

This is the first time that the group has publicly demanded the release of prisoners in exchange for hostages. Previous captives are thought to have been released in exchange for ransom, although governments involved have refused to confirm any payments were made.

Goto, a freelance journalist, was seized in October in Syria, apparently while trying to rescue Yukawa, 42, who was captured by the militants last summer.

Japanese officials have indicated they are treating the video released over the weekend as authentic and thus accepting the likelihood that Yukawa was dead.

Securing the release of al-Rishawi would be a major propaganda coup for the Islamic State and would allow the group to reaffirm its links to al-Qaida in Iraq.

The mother of another Jordanian prisoner, Ziad al-Karboli, told the AP on Tuesday that her family was told that the Islamic State group also was seeking his release as part of a swap. It was unclear whether it was related to a possible deal involving the Japanese hostage.

Al-Karboli, an aide to a former al-Qaida leader in Iraq, was sentenced to death in 2008 for killing a Jordanian citizen.

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