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Man on videotape says he's missing U.S. soldier

Al-Jazeera airs tape of armed, masked men holding 'hostage'

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Arabic television network Al-Jazeera videotape shows footage of a U.S. soldier and his captors.

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(CNN) -- A videotape showing a uniformed man who identifies himself as a missing U.S. soldier was broadcast on the Arabic-language television network Al-Jazeera.

The tape broadcast on Friday shows six men -- four holding rifles and one with a pistol -- standing behind a man seated on the ground and wearing a U.S. Army uniform, who gives his name as Keith Matthew Maupin.

The man, who does not appear to have shaved in several days, wears a camouflage hat in the video.

"We have taken one of the U.S. soldiers hostage," the narrator said.

"He is in good health and being treated based on the tenets of Islamic law for the treatment of soldiers taken hostage. We will keep him until we trade him for our prisoners in the custody of the U.S. enemy. We want them to know -- and the whole world to know -- that when we took him in, he came out of his tank holding a white flag and he lay face down on the ground, just like other soldiers."

U.S. Central Command spokesman Capt. Bruce Frame said Maupin is one of two U.S. soldiers unaccounted for since last Friday, when their fuel convoy came under attack by rocket-propelled grenades and small-arms fire near Baghdad.

Another tape was dropped off Friday at the U.S. Embassy in Doha, Qatar, and then turned over to Central Command in Doha, where officials were trying to verify its authenticity, Frame said.

CNN's Jamie McIntyre explained that Maupin is considered a hostage, and not a prisoner of war, because he is being held in exchange for something --- in this case, the release of prisoners being held by U.S. forces.

Also missing since the attack is Sgt. Elmer Krause, 40, of Greensboro, North Carolina. Both he and Maupin, 20, of Batavia, Ohio, were with the Army's 724th Transportation Company out of Bartonsville, Illinois, and are listed as "duty-status whereabouts unknown" by the military.

Six civilian contractors of the Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg, Brown & Root are also missing since the fuel convoy attack.

Another KBR contractor, Thomas Hamill, a truck driver from Macon, Miss., has been seen on videotape in the custody of armed men with their faces covered.

His captors said they would kill him on Easter if the United States did not withdraw its troops from the Sunni city of Fallujah. The deadline to meet demands from his captors has come and gone.

The coalition attributes the recent round of hostage-taking in Iraq to the actions of the insurgency.

The latest reported abductions are those of a Danish citizen and a Jordanian-born businessman.

Meanwhile two Japanese were released Saturday after three other Japanese nationals were freed earlier in the week. (Full story)

Fallujah meeting goes well

A meeting Friday between representatives of the U.S.-led coalition and leaders from the Sunni Muslim stronghold of Fallujah went well and will resume Saturday, spokesmen for the two sides said.

Friday was the first day U.S. military and coalition officials entered into talks with Fallujah authorities for a comprehensive cease-fire.

Insurgent assaults in Fallujah, including the killing and mutilation of four U.S. security contractors March 31, spurred the Marines to launch an offensive against the resistance.

Hashem al-Hassani, deputy chief of the Iraqi Islamic Party, said residents want Fallujah to return to peace and normalcy, saying they are tired of the violent instability. He said the people of Fallujah are willing to reject criminal elements.

Richard Jones, a Coalition Provisional Authority representative, said the coalition has agreed to reposition some of its forces to enable vehicle access to the general hospital in Fallujah. He said there is some contact between authorities and the insurgents, and said the resistance is loosely organized.

Al-Hassani said they want to start collecting heavy weapons from the insurgents and want to bring back to the city some elements of the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps and the Iraqi police.

Jones warned that "time is limited" for the discussions.

"We cannot just sit here and allow the situation to continue the way it is. There are literally tens of thousands of innocent people who are bottled up in the city and we don't want them to continue to be held hostage by these terrorists and militant groups."

Al-Sistani: 'Horrible tactics' in Fallujah

Also Friday, the most influential Shiite cleric in Iraq slammed the behavior of U.S.-led coalition forces in Fallujah and in the Shiite town of Najaf, saying the "occupation forces" have used "horrible tactics" throughout the country.

"The attacks have been ongoing for several days throughout a number of cities such as Baghdad and a number of provinces in the north, south, east and west where we have had a great number of civilian deaths," Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani said in a statement.

Supporters of Pfc. Maupin applaud during a rally in his home town of Batavia, Ohio, Friday.

"Other unfortunate incidents include ... a number of government centers and institutions have been looted and pillaged while others were seized by some armed groups, a thing that has created a state of chaos and security disorder in a number of towns and the situation is going from bad to worse."

The ayatollah condemned the coalition's "horrible tactics" and "the means used by the occupation forces in handling the incidents."

He urged that differences be handled by "political and social forces" with "wisdom and through peaceful means" while shunning moves that would generate "more chaos and bloodshed."

Shiite Arabs comprise 60 percent of the country's population, giving the ayatollah's pronouncements high importance.

Meanwhile in Washington, British Prime Minister Tony Blair said the United States and Great Britain will seek a U.N. resolution on Iraq, focusing on the handover of civil authority to Iraqis that is scheduled for June 30.

"The U.N. will have a central role as now in developing the programs and machinery" that will transform Iraq into a democracy, he said during a Rose Garden news conference after a meeting with President Bush. (Full story)

Other Developments

The United Nations issued a news release saying U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan agreed with the idea Thursday night during a meeting with Blair.Spanish troops in the southern city of Diwaniyah took mortar fire early Friday from suspected Shiite militants loyal to al-Sadr, a spokesman for the Spanish contingent said.

The coalition said Friday that eight Iraqi civilians were killed Wednesday in northern Iraq by "indiscriminate anti-coalition mortar and rocket attacks."

U.S. soldiers whose combat tours in Iraq have been involuntarily extended beyond one year will be offered bonus pay of $1,000 a month, Army officials told CNN on Friday.

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