German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Wednesday that Germany will not be blackmailed by the kidnapper of a German woman in Iraq.
"We will not be blackmailed," said Merkel in her first speech to the German parliament since taking office last week. "We cannot fail in our fight against terrorism."
Susanne Osthoff, 43, was the first German national to be taken hostage in Iraq. She is an archaeologist who has been working in Iraq for years and is fluent in Arabic. She married to an Iraqi and has an 11-year-old daughter.
In a video delivered by the kidnappers to a public TV station in Baghdad, the kidnappers demanded the German government to stop cooperating with the Iraqi government and threatened to kill the hostages otherwise.
The German government "was aiming all its efforts at protecting the lives of Susanne Osthoff and her driver," Merkel told the parliament, adding that the government "will do all it can to bring them to safety as soon as possible."
The chancellor also expressed sympathy for Osthoff's family. "We fell with them, all Germans do. We do not close our eyes or our hearts to their hurt," she said.
Also on Wednesday, Susanne Osthoff's sister Anja urged the German government to show flexibility to save the life of Susanne.
"I hope that the government is not too obstinate and will give more thought to changing its policy on Iraq," said Anja.
Germany strongly opposed the United States-led military operation against Iraq in 2003. It has no troops in Iraq now, but it helps training Iraqi security forces, though not on Iraqi territory.