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Bin Laden's threats unacceptable, says Kouchner

media Frenc Foreign Affairs Minister Bernard Kouchner AFP/Watt Abdel Jelil

Osama bin Laden’s threats to France are “unacceptable”, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner has told RFI. But, he added, that the Al-Qaeda leader – who issued a recording telling the French to expect more kidnappings and violence on Wednseday – is probably not as powerful as he used to be.

“These unacceptable threats are nothing new,” Kouchner told RFI Thursday. “We weren’t astonished and we are maintaining an extremely high level of vigilance and preparation, in all the meanings of the word.”

Dossier: AfPak news and analysis

French secret services have confirmed that bin Laden’s message, released to Al Jazeera TV, is genuine.

Despite the ongoing terror alert in France and the detention of French hostages in north Africa and Afghanistan, Kouchner claimed that bin Laden’s influence is probably declining.

“It’s not ben Laden who is holding the hostages, it’s much more complicated than that,” he said. “I even think that bin Laden doesn’t have the means at his disposal that he once had.

“As for the hostages, we’re doing all we can and nothing changes because of bin Laden’s threats,” he said.

France is likely to pull its troops out of Afghanistan in 2011, Defence Minister Hervé Morin said on Thursday. But he insisted that the announcement of a date had nothing to do with ben Laden’s message.


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