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We won't pay the pirates; FOREIGN SECRETARY'S VOW ON HOSTAGES.

FOREIGN Secretary David Miliband has signalled that Britain would not pay a ransom for hostages, including a man from County Durham, held by pirates off the east African coast.

Peter French and James Grady, from Strathclyde, are on the Sirius Star, which is currently anchored off the coast of Somalia Mr Miliband said the international community must "stand firm" against hostage-taking in all its forms. He insisted that making payments in return for the release of hostages would only encourage further incidents.

Mr Miliband said he was "extremely concerned" by the sit- uation involving the two British hostages in the Gulf of Aden but added that he could not comment on specific negotiations.

He said: "There is a strong view of the British Government, and actually the international community, that payments for hostage-taking are only an encouragement to further hostage- taking and we will be approaching this issue in a very delicate way, in a way that puts the security and safety of the hostages to the fore."

The Foreign Secretary said the deployment of a European force was the correct course of action.

Mr Miliband went on: "All of our hearts go out to all of those people who are now hostages on that ship; obviously, in our case, especially for the two British hostages. Their families will be going through a wrenching hell of waiting."

A statement said the families of the two men "greatly appreciate the concern that has been expressed by people throughout the UK and beyond about Peter and James".

The Saudi-owned ship was fully laden with two million barrels of oil when pirates boarded it. It is the largest vessel ever to be hijacked in a region notorious for piracy.

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HIJACKED: The Sirius Star tanker is fully laden with oil
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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Nov 20, 2008
Words:298
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