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Iraq Transition

Khalilzad: Iraqis say Carroll alive

American journalist was abducted January 7

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Freelance journalist Jill Carroll was kidnapped on January 7 while she was on assignment in Baghdad.

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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Iraqi officials believe kidnapped American journalist Jill Carroll is alive and they are working toward her release, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq said Monday.

In a broadcast interview, Zalmay Khalilzad said, "Yes, I did talk to the minister of interior late last night, and he said that based on the information that he has, that she is alive and that they have information with regard to where she might be held.

"We are doing all that we can to help bring about a release and will persist with that. But the minister announced today that he's optimistic about her release."

Iraqi Interior Minister Bayan Jabr made similar statements in a broadcast interview Monday on ABC.

The latest in a series of apparent deadlines set by kidnappers holding Carroll passed Sunday with no word on her fate.

She last appeared on a video shown on Alrai Television in Kuwait on February 9. In that video she said she was doing well, but she urged the United States to meet her captors' demands quickly.

Her abductors, a group calling itself Brigades of Vengeance, have said they will kill Carroll if the United States does not release all women it has detained in Iraq.

The 28-year-old freelance writer on assignment for The Christian Science Monitor was kidnapped January 7 in western Baghdad. Her Iraqi interpreter was killed, but her Iraqi driver escaped.

Christian Science Monitor Editor Richard Bergenheim issued a written statement saying, "The Carroll family and The Christian Science Monitor continue to follow developments in Iraq very carefully.

"We appreciate the wide ranging efforts being made by Iraqi and U.S. officials to secure Jill's release. We hope that today's encouraging statements about Jill's condition and prospects for safe return are proved correct."

Muslim leaders have joined her family, friends and colleagues in calling for her release.

Some of the pleas have come in advertisements run on state-run Iraqiya TV.

The announcements, which CNN helped to produce, were 60 seconds and 90 seconds long. Iraqiya TV is financed in part by the United States.

Iraqi politician Adnan al-Dulaimi, whom Carroll was waiting to meet before she was kidnapped, appears in one announcement, his comments pulled from an earlier news conference.

"Please, I appeal to those who kidnapped American journalist Jill Carroll," he said. "I call on them to release her. She is a woman who strived for Iraq, defended Iraq, defended Iraqis."

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