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    RUSSIA, UKRAINE TO DISCUSS HOSTAGE TAKING IN IRAQ

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    KIEV, April 13 (RIA Novosti) - The Ukrainian and Russian Foreign Ministers, Konstantin Grishchenko and Sergei Lavrov, will discuss the situation around the hostage taking of Ukrainian and Russian citizens in Iraq.

    According to the press service of the Ukrainian foreign ministry, this situation is arousing deep concerns of the Ukrainian side and now the information about the hostage taking is being carefully checked and analyzed by the Ukrainian embassy in Iraq.

    According to initial reports, eight staffers of the Russian Interenergoservice company taken hostage in Baghdad include five Ukrainian citizens who worked there on a contract.

    At the same time, the Belarussian foreign ministry has no information about Belarussian citizens taken hostage in Iraq. Nonetheless, its foreign ministry is checking the information about CIS citizens taken hostage in Iraq, said the press secretary of the Belarussian foreign ministry, Andrei Savinykh.

    Earlier, the Moscow office of the Qatar-based Al Jazeera TV channel said that the hostages included Ukrainian and other CIS citizens.

    According to the spokesman for the Belarussian foreign ministry, the Belarussian embassy in Syria is checking this information through all the available channels. "We will keep an eye on the situation to clarify all the uncertainties," said Mr. Savinykh.

    The spokesman for the Russian foreign ministry has denied media reports about the possible evacuation of 500 Russian experts from Iraq.

    Al Jazeera's Moscow office has circulated a report saying, "the Russian foreign ministry is conducting negotiations with the Iraqi authorities and other sides about measures to protect Russian citizens in Iraq. However, there is no question of evacuating Russians from Iraq."

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