Trudeau's drive against paying ransoms will broaden G7 position: official | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Trudeau's drive against paying ransoms will broaden G7 position: official

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, left to right, President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker, President of France Francois Hollande, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, U.S. President Barack Obama, Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, European Council President Donald Tusk, British Prime Minister David Cameron visit the Ise Grand Shrine (Ise Jingu) in Ise, Japan during the G7 Summit on Thursday, May 26, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
May 26, 2016 - 11:20 AM

SHIMA, Japan - Justin Trudeau is leading a push at the G7 summit that will likely broaden a previous agreement by the leaders to stop paying ransom for the release of kidnapped citizens, Canada's point person at the meeting said Thursday.

Peter Boehm, Trudeau's personal representative at the G7 summit, told reporters in Japan that there's a growing sense around the table that citizens from these major economies can be in danger at any time.

They also believe the problem isn't going away, he said.

"And by paying ransom you are just aiding and abetting the terrorists," said Boehm, who's also Canada's deputy minister of international development.

Trudeau, he added, has been trying to encourage his G7 counterparts inside the fortified, seaside summit to strengthen their position on the issue.

In 2013, the G7 leaders released a joint statement at the end of their meeting saying they "unequivocally reject the payment of ransoms to terrorists" in line with a United Nations Security Council resolution.

The rule, the document said, prevents the payment of ransoms, directly or indirectly, to terrorists designated under the UN al-Qaida sanctions regime.

"We all need to reiterate this commitment and also abide by it," Trudeau told his peers at a working dinner Thursday after the first day of the summit.

Recent events have made the issue of particular concern for Trudeau and his government.

Last month, Canadian hostage John Ridsdel was beheaded by Abu Sayyaf militants in the Philippines who had demanded a large sum of money in exchange for his release.

Another Canadian, Robert Hall, was kidnapped by the same group and is still being held hostage in the Asian country.

Hall and Ridsdel, along with two other tourists, were captured last September by militants.

After Ridsdel's beheading, Trudeau said Canada would never pay ransom for the release of hostages.

His push on the ransom issue came a couple of days after he reportedly received an apology for Ridsdel's death from Rodrigo Duterte, president-elect of the Philippines.

An online report by Rappler says Duterte told a news conference that he apologized to Trudeau on Tuesday when the Canadian prime minister called to congratulate him on his recent election victory.

"Please accept my apologies for the incident that resulted in the killing of your national and we will try our very best to make sure nothing of the sort will happen again," the report quoted Duterte as saying.

Cameron Ahmad, a spokesman for Trudeau, confirmed that the prime minister spoke with Duterte, but he declined to offer details of the call.

The Canadian government won't release any information that could compromise ongoing efforts or endanger the safety of the remaining hostages, Ahmad said.

The government's first priority is the safety and security of its citizens, he added.

"Paying ransom for Canadians would endanger the lives of every single one of the millions of Canadians who live, work and travel around the world every single year," Trudeau said earlier this month.

It remains to be seen how far the G7 position on paying ransoms could be expanded.

The issue of whether governments bend to the demands of terror groups has long been murky and it is likely to remain an open question regardless of what Trudeau and his fellow leaders decide.

An al-Qaida letter obtained by The Associated Press three years ago suggests about $1 million was paid for the release of Canadian diplomat Robert Fowler in Niger in 2009.

Still, G7 members are likely to agree to a change, particularly considering the 2013 joint statement already addressed the issue, John Kirton, director of the G8 Research Group at the University of Toronto, wrote in an email Thursday.

"It was good for Trudeau to drive this issue after a Canadian was recently murdered in the Philippines."

Follow @AndyBlatchford on Twitter

News from © The Canadian Press, 2016
The Canadian Press

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