French minister meets Afghan Prez on hostages

Two French scribes were kidnapped by suspected Islamist insurgents in 2009.

Kabul: President Hamid Karzai has promised the "full support" of Afghan authorities in efforts to free two French journalists held captive in the war-torn country, France`s defence minister said on Sunday.

After meeting with the Afghan leader, Alain Juppe said intense discussions were taking place and he hoped the pair, kidnapped by suspected Islamist insurgents on December 30 last year, would be released soon.

"President Karzai assured me of the Afghan authorities` full support and all the help they can give us," Juppe said.

"I don`t have a more precise timetable to give you. As we have said several times before, discussions are intense."

Juppe said he hoped "from the bottom of his heart" that the matter would be resolved soon, but he was unable to give a date.

"I don`t want to give false hope, but I am confident," he added.

Stephane Taponier and Herve Ghesquiere, a reporter and a cameraman for the state-owned television channel France 3, were abducted in an area northeast of Kabul rife with anti-government insurgents.

Juppe arrived in Kabul on Saturday for a Christmas visit to French troops deployed in Afghanistan.

Bureau Report