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Iraq force 'won't give in' to kidnappers


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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- The U.S. says the 32 nations in the multinational force in Iraq are united in not making concessions to hostage takers.

In a sign that the recent spate of kidnappings and murders in Iraq have taken a toll, at least psychologically, on the U.S.-led coalition there, the State Department announced Wednesday what it called a new "policy statement" on terrorism.

"We're united in our resolve to make no concessions to terrorists, nor to succumb to terrorist threats," U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said in a statement on Wednesday.

"We understand that conceding to terrorists will only endanger all members of the multinational force, as well as other countries who are contributing to Iraqi reconstruction and humanitarian assistance."

Insurgents have intensified their campaign of kidnappings in recent months in a bid to weaken the resolve of U.S.-led coalition forces and allies of Washington.

Kidnappers have also targeted foreign companies working in Iraq, many of whom supply the U.S. military.

The U.S. statement sends a strong message to hostage takers in the aftermath of the Philippine government giving in to the demands of kidnappers last month.

Then, Manila pulled out its 51-member humanitarian force from Iraq in a successful bid to free a Filipino truck driver.

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell has repeatedly voiced strong frustration and disappointment over their decision to rapidly withdraw forces from Iraq.

Powell has said the Philippine decision would only encourage kidnappers to continue to prey upon coalition forces.

"Can kidnapping be rewarded? Can kidnappers be dealt with?" Powell said last month.

"Or is the correct response from the civilized world that we will not reward kidnappers because it can only be seen as a reward that might well lead to future kidnappings? It incentivizes kidnappings."

In announcing the U.S. policy statement, Boucher said similar statements are expected from many of the remaining 31 coalition members in coming days.

The impetus for the statement came from Bulgaria, which has close to 500 combat troops based in Karbala, Iraq.

Two Bulgarian civilian truck drivers were kidnapped last month by Iraqi insurgents, who demanded the U.S. release all Iraqi detainees.

One of the drivers, Georgi Larzov, 30, was found beheaded July 14. He was buried in Sofia on Wednesday. The fate of the other driver, Ivaylo Kepov, remains unknown.

Meanwhile two Turkish truck drivers held hostage in Iraq since Saturday have been released, the Turkish Foreign Ministry told CNN on Wednesday.

On Monday, an Islamist Web site posted a video purportedly showing the killing of a third Turkish hostage.

In Jordan, four workers taken hostage for five days in Iraq returned home Wednesday hours after being released by their captors, according to a brother of one hostage.

CNN's Tomas Etzler, Kevin Flower, Andrea Koppel, Kianne Sadeq, Barbara Starr and Alphonso Van Marsh contributed to this report.


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