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Sudan Plans to Close Embassy in Baghdad

December 30, 2005

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) _ Sudan will close its embassy in Baghdad in an effort to win the release of six kidnapped employees, a Sudanese diplomat said Friday, a day after al-Qaida in Iraq threatened to kill the captives if the diplomatic mission remained.

Al-Qaida in Iraq, which has kidnapped and killed a string of Arab diplomats and embassy employees in a campaign to scare Arab governments from setting up full diplomatic missions in Iraq, had set a Saturday deadline for Sudan to ``announce clearly that it is cutting its relations″ with the Iraqi government, or it would kill five Sudanese hostages.

The Sudanese Foreign Ministry reported on Dec. 24 that six of its embassy employees were kidnapped _ including the mission’s second secretary. It was not immediately clear if the al-Qaida statement referred to the same group.

``A statement was issued by the Sudanese government to close the embassy in Iraq to win the release of our kidnapped citizens,″ the embassy’s charge d’affairs, Mohamed Ahmed Khalil, told The Associated Press.

The Qatari-based Al-Jazeera satellite channel on Thursday showed video it said it received from the kidnappers, showing the five Sudanese sitting on chairs, talking to the camera, but no audio was heard. The video also showed ID documents from the Sudanese Embassy, but the names could not be discerned.

Al-Qaida’s statement said if Sudan did not close its embassy, ``this government will bear the responsibility of presenting their diplomats as sacrifices.″

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