'France does not pay ransoms,' says Hollande19 september 2014, 14:47
French President Francois Hollande on Thursday said that "France does not pay ransoms" for hostages, nor does it exchange prisoners, AFP reports.
The declaration follows reports in the US media that President Barack Obama has grown increasingly frustrated with France and other nations for continuing to pay ransoms -- often through back-channels -- while claiming publicly that they do not negotiate with terrorists.
Speaking at a rare news conference, Hollande insisted: "I will recall the rules that I imposed on myself in 2012: France does not pay ransoms, nor does France engage in prisoner exchanges."
But he added: "This does not mean that countries do not do it. It has happened that some countries, to help us, do it. That I concede."
"We feel that we must always do whatever we can" to obtain the release of hostages, "but it can take an incredible amount of time," he said, recalling that four French citizens had recently been freed after being held in the Sahel region of Africa for more than three years.
Four French journalists, held for 10 months by the Islamic State group in Syria and released in April, were held alongside US journalist James Foley who was killed by the militants last month.
"We did everything we could and we were able to succeed because some countries helped us, gave us information, but it's very difficult," said Hollande.