Deadlock in Japan hostage-swap talks with ISIS

January 31, 2015 6:11 pm

’s deputy foreign minister has said negotiations with the
Islamic State () group threatening to execute a Jordanian pilot and a
Japanese journalist have become “deadlocked”.
Yasuhide Nakayama,
who is leading Tokyo’s emergency response team in Amman, told reporters
in the Jordanian capital there had been no progress in trying to secure
the release of Japanese journalist Kenji Goto and airman Muath
al-Kaseasbeh.

Japan says there’s been no progress in efforts to secure the release of
journalist Kenji Goto and airman Muath al-Kaseasbeh. Photo / AP

“It has become deadlocked,” he said. “Staying
vigilant, we will continue analysing and examining information as the
Government is making concerted efforts together.”
In Tokyo,
deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroshige Seko, a key aide to Prime
Minister Shinzo Abe, said the Government was still waiting for new
information.
Isis had vowed to kill Kaseasbeh by sunset on
Thursday, local time, unless Amman hands over a female Iraqi jihadist in
return for Goto.

Jordan has demanded evidence the pilot, who crashed in
on December 24, is alive before freeing would-be suicide bomber Sajida
al-Rishawi, who is on death row.
Jordan has offered to free
Rishawi, who was convicted for her part in triple-hotel bombings in
Amman in 2005 that killed 60 people, if Isis releases the pilot.
The
Jordanian Government has been under heavy pressure at home and from
Japan – a major aid donor – to save Kaseasbeh as well as Goto.
Isis
threatened Kaseasbeh’s life, but it was not clear from its latest
message if the jihadist group was ready to free him as part of an
exchange. Japan, which plays no military part in the fight against Isis,
was thrust on to the front line last week when a video appeared of two
of its nationals, Goto and Haruna Yukawa, kneeling in the desert.
A
masked, knife-wielding militant said Tokyo had 72 hours to pay a US$200
million ($275 million) ransom if it wanted to spare their lives. When
that deadline expired, new pictures appeared to show Yukawa had been
beheaded, and a voice identifying itself as Goto demanded the release of
Rishawi.

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