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Thu Apr 17 05:52:31 SAST 2014

G8 leaders agree to stamp out terror ransom payments

Sapa-AFP | 18 June, 2013 16:47
American dollars file photo
Image by: Gallo Images/Thinkstock

G8 leaders have agreed to stamp out the payment of ransoms for hostages kidnapped by "terrorists", British Prime Minister David Cameron's office said Tuesday.

Downing Street said the world leaders meeting at a summit in Northern Ireland would also call on companies to follow their lead in refusing to pay for the release of abductees.

"Leaders agree to stamp out payment of ransoms to terrorists and call on companies to follow their lead," Cameron's office said on its Twitter feed.

The leaders of the world's most industrialised nations were focusing on counter-terrorism during talks on Tuesday, the second and final day of the summit.

British officials said Cameron had been keen to push the deal because funds raised by ransom payments were the main source of funding for terror groups, especially those in north Africa.

Britain was particularly focused on the subject following a hostage crisis at a gas plant in Algeria in January in which 37 foreign hostages were killed, among them six Britons.

Cameron's spokesman said the agreement was "very strong."

"That the G8 sending a very clear, unambiguous message on this is important," the spokesman told reporters.

It would target "proscribed organisations".

A draft of the final G8 comminque obtained by AFP said al Qaeda-affiliated groups had collected "tens of millions of dollars in ransoms" in the past three years.

"We unequivocally reject the payment of ransoms to terrorists" in line with a UN Security Council resolution, the draft said.

"The payment of ransoms to terrorist groups is one of the sources of income which supports their recruitment efforts, strengthens their operational capability to organise and carry out terrorist attacks," it added.

But the G8 leaders said that "when the worst happens" they agreed to provide assistance to other states whose nationals are kidnapped including specialist help "or the provision of resources related to hostage rescue."

Hostage-taking was worth $70 million to al Qaeda-linked groups around the world over the last two years, British officials said.

For al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, the north African branch of the extremist group, it has been worth 33 million euros over the past three years.

Five of the G8 nations had been "shifting" on the issue while three did not pay ransoms as a matter of principle, British officials said.

In Britain, it is illegal to pay a ransom from the UK to anywhere else.

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Thu Apr 17 05:52:31 SAST 2014 ::