Putin urges international help to free Russian diplomats in Iraq

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Russia's president Thursday called on the international community to help free Russian diplomats kidnapped in Iraq.

SHANGHAI, June 15 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's president Thursday called on the international community to help free Russian diplomats kidnapped in Iraq.

One Russian diplomat was killed and four others kidnapped when unidentified gunmen attacked a Russian embassy car in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, June 3. The kidnappers have yet to make ransom or other demands for the hostages' freedom.

"I am counting on assistance from all our friends," Putin told journalists at a summit of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) heads of state in Shanghai. "We are continuing to work on the problem, and cooperating with the Iraqi authorities, and with our friends in neighboring states."

A senior Russian lawmaker, Mikhail Margelov, said earlier that Russia was using all its connections with the Iraqi government and major political parties to secure their release, and urged all Iraqis who remembered Russian aid to the country to help in the search.

But Margelov, who heads the committee on international affairs in the upper house of Russia's parliament, said the kidnapping should not affect friendly relations between Russia and Iraq, as the diplomats had been abducted by "international terrorists."

The Organization of the Islamic Conference, which has condemned the kidnapping as a crime against humanity and Islam, has pledged assistance in getting the diplomats released.

President Putin also said he hoped SCO bodies could be employed in dealing with such incidents.

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