Monday, 22 September 2014

Erdogan: Turkish Hostages Released after ‘Negotiations’

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Sunday dozens of Turkish hostages held by the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant terrorists in Iraq had been freed as a result of negotiations and no ransom had been paid for their release.

"A bargain for money is totally out of the question. There were only diplomatic and political negotiations. And this is a diplomatic victory," Erdogan told reporters at Ankara's Esenboga Airport before departing for New York for a UN General Assembly meeting.

Forty-six Turks abducted by ISIL in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul were freed and returned to Turkey on Saturday after more than three months in captivity, in what Erdogan described as a "secret rescue operation" by Turkey's spy agency.

Asked whether hostages had been released in exchange for ISIL militants, Erdogan said: "It doesn't matter whether there was a swap or not. The most important thing is they (the hostages) are back and reunited with their families."

Turkish diplomats and their children were seized along with special forces officers in their country's consulate on June 11 as ISIL militants overran Mosul and whole swathes of northern Iraq.

Erdogan signaled Turkey may reconsider its position now that the hostages have been released. "We could have said 'yes' when they asked us to join the coalition, but we couldn't do it at that time. We told them that we cannot take any steps until the hostage issue has been resolved," he said. "We said we cannot play a role in the coalition, but we will map out a road map after intensive negotiations with coalition members," he said.

Source: AFP
21-09-2014 - 16:10 Last updated 21-09-2014 - 16:10

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