Insurgents Kidnap Archaeologist Susanne Osthoff
Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, facing her first crisis since taking office last week, called on Ms. Osthoff's kidnappers today to release the archaeologist."We condemn this act in the harshest possible terms," Mrs. Merkel said in a brief statement to the press."We urgently appeal to the perpetrators to hand both of them over into safe custody." Mrs. Merkel said that the government had set up a crisis committee to deal with the kidnapping, and she told Ms. Osthoff's family in Germany that everything would be done to secure her release."They can rest assured," Mrs. Merkel said of the family,"that the government will do everything in its power to bring both the kidnapped to safety and to secure their lives." Ms. Osthoff's kidnapping was already riveting a German public that has long been among Europe's most skeptical in its attitude toward the Iraq war, which Germany has opposed from the beginning. Germany has consistently refused to send troops to Iraq, and Mrs. Merkel has vowed not to change that policy. But she has also said she would continue Germany's ongoing training of Iraqi police in the United Arab Emirates, an activity that the kidnappers apparently were referring to in their demand that Germany stop cooperating with the Iraqi government.
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