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Jordan Ready to Swap Inmate for Pilot  01/28 06:07

   Jordan said Wednesday it is willing to swap an Iraqi woman held on death row 
in Jordan for a Jordanian pilot captured in December by extremists from the 
Islamic State group.

   AMMAN, Jordan (AP) -- Jordan said Wednesday it is willing to swap an Iraqi 
woman held on death row in Jordan for a Jordanian pilot captured in December by 
extremists from the Islamic State group.

   The statement by Jordanian government spokesman Mohammed al-Momani made no 
mention of Japanese journalist Kenji Goto, who is also being held by the 
Islamic State group.

   Efforts to release the Jordanian pilot and the journalist gained urgency 
with the release late Tuesday of a purported online ultimatum claiming the 
Islamic State group would kill both hostages within 24 hours if the Iraqi woman 
was not freed.

   On Wednesday, al-Momani said in a statement that "Jordan is ready to release 
the Iraqi prisoner, Sajida al-Rishawi, if the Jordanian pilot, Lt. Muath 
al-Kaseasbeh, is released unharmed." His comments were carried by Jordan's 
official Petra news agency.

   Al-Rishawi was sentenced to death in Jordan for her involvement in a 2005 
terrorist attack by al-Qaida on hotels in Amman that killed 60 people.

   Jordan is reportedly in indirect talks with the militants through religious 
and tribal leaders in Iraq to secure the hostages' release.

   The chairman of the foreign affairs committee of Jordan's parliament, Bassam 
Al-Manasseer, has been quoted as saying that Jordan and Japan would not 
negotiate directly with the Islamic State group and would not free al-Rishawi 
for the Japanese hostage only.

   Earlier Wednesday, the mother of the Japanese hostage, Kenji Goto, appealed 
publicly to Japan's premier to save her son.

   The mother, Junko Ishido, read to reporters her plea to Prime Minister 
Shinzo Abe, which she said she sent after both Abe and Japan's main government 
spokesman declined to meet with her.

   "Please save Kenji's life," Ishido said, begging Abe to work with the 
Jordanian government until the very end to try to save Goto.

   "Kenji has only a little time left," she said.

   The Jordanian government is under growing pressure at home to win the 
release of the pilot.

   The pilot's father, Safi al-Kaseasbeh, beseeched his government late Tuesday 
"to meet the demands" of the Islamic State group.

   "All people must know, from the head of the regime to everybody else, that 
the safety of Mu'ath means the stability of Jordan, and the death of Mu'ath 
means chaos in Jordan," he told The Associated Press.

   About 200 of the pilot's relatives protested outside the prime minister's 
office in Amman, chanting anti-government slogans and urging that it meet the 
captors' demands.


(KA)


 
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