Iraq refuses to free Britons

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The Independent Online
BAGHDAD (AP) - Iraq yesterday rejected pleas to release two jailed Britons, saying that Britain would first have to unfreeze Iraqi assets seized during the Gulf war. Michael Whitlam, head of the British Red Cross, said after a meeting with the Deputy Prime Minister, Tariq Aziz, that Baghdad had spurned requests by the jailed Britons' relatives to free them.

Mr Aziz apparently reiterated his demand that the men could be freed if London released millions of dollars of Iraqi assets. But Britain refuses to turn over the assets until Iraq complies fully with UN resolutions stemming from the Gulf War.