2 Gulf Daily News Thursday, 29th January 2015 Jordan offers swap to save pilot AMMAN: Jordan offered a precedent-setting prisoner swap to the Islamic State (IS) group yesterday in a desperate attempt to save a Jordanian air force pilot the militants threatened to kill, along with a Japanese hostage. Late last night, the pilot’s father met Jordan’s King Abdullah who he said assured him that “everything will be fine”. However, meeting the IS demand for the release of a would-be hotel bomber linked to Al Qaeda would run counter to the kingdom’s hard-line approach to the extremists. Efforts to release the pilot, Lt Muath Al Kaseasbeh, and Japanese journalist Kenji Goto gained urgency with the release of an online ultimatum claiming the IS would kill both hostages within 24 hours if the prisoner was not freed. By late last night, there was no word on the fate of the hostages and no sign a swap was underway. In a possible indication of n Ishido reacts during a Press conference in Tokyo a hold-up, Jordan’s foreign minister wrote on his Twitter account that Jordan had not re- also remained unclear. Jordanian government ceived evidence the pilot was spokesman Mohammed Al alive and healthy. The scope of a possible swap Momani said Jordan is ready and of the IS group’s demands to trade the prisoner, an Iraqi woman convicted of involvement in deadly Amman hotel bombings in 2005, for the pilot. He made no mention of Goto, and it was not clear if the swap proposed by Jordan would satisfy the hostage-takers. Any exchange would set a precedent for negotiating with the militants, who in the past have not publicly demanded prisoner releases. The release of Sajida Al Rishawi would also be a propaganda coup for the IS who have already overrun large parts of Syria and Iraq. Jordan is part of a US-led military alliance that has carried out air strikes against IS targets in Syria and Iraq. Several dozen protesters n Goto holds a photo of the Jordanian pilot in a video released by the militant group and was allowed into the palace, along with his wife, to meet King n A woman holds a picture of her pilot son Abdullah. In Tokyo, gathered outside King Abdul- Goto’s mother, Junko Ishido, lah’s palace in Amman, urging appealed publicly to Prime the government to do more to Minister Shinzo Abe. win the release of the pilot. “Please save Kenji’s life,” The pilot’s father, Safi Al Ka- she said, begging Abe to work saesbeh, was part of the group with the Jordanian government until the very end to try to save Goto. “Kenji has only a little time left,” she said in a plea read to reporters. Ishido said both Abe and Japan’s main government spokesman had declined to meet her. Later, a few dozen people gathered outside the prime minister’s official residence, holding banners expressing hopes for Goto’s release.
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