Georgian President: Tbilisi is ready to launch talks with kidnappers of U.N. observers

The Georgian leadership is ready to launch negotiations with the kidnappers of three UN observers and their Georgian translator, who were snatched away from Georgia's Kodori Gorge on June 5.

In his traditional Monday radio interview, the country's President Edward Shevardnadze said Tbilisi was ready to "negotiate even with criminals" for the sake of saving the lives of the UN officers. He noted nevertheless that the country's law enforcing authorities would "find an adequate answer to those who organized this" kidnapping.

He reminded the audience that it was the fourth case when UN observers were getting kidnapped from the zone of the Georgian-Abkhazian conflict.

"I never thought the natives of the Kodori Gorge could plan such a crime," he said.

According to his words, the Georgian power structures were engaged in an all-out effort to locate the UN officers. The search effort, organized jointly by the Georgian Defence Ministry and the State Security Ministry, has been going on since the day of the kidnapping.

According to unofficial information, the kidnappers demanded 3 million dollars ransom for two German officers /Klaus Ott and Herbert Bauer/, one Danish officer (Henrik Soerensen/ and their Georgian interpreter /Lashi Chikashua/.

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