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Japanese hostage is part of prisoner swap negotiation with ISIS but ‘our priority is our pilot,’ says Jordanian Foreign Minister

January 28th, 2015
04:03 PM ET

By Madalena Araujo, CNN

Jordanian Foreign Minister told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Wednesday that Japanese hostage Kenji Goto, who is currently held by ISIS, is part of the negotiations with the terror group, but that Jordanian pilot Moaz al-Kasasbeh is the priority.

“Yes, of course,” Nasser Judeh told Amanpour over the phone in response to questioning about whether Kenji Goto is part of ongoing negotiations with ISIS, which were made public on Wednesday.

“But as you know our priority is our pilot, but we are cooperating very, very closely with our Japanese friends and allies. It is ISIS, Daish [the Arabic acronym used for the group], that has tied the fate of the two captives together.”

Judeh also confirmed that the negotiations had been taking place for weeks and through intermediaries.

“Perhaps some of the negotiations that have been taking place, for weeks, actually, is not direct, but perhaps through indirect channels as is always the case when it comes to situations like that.”

On Tuesday, ISIS released a new video with a new demand: Goto’s life would be spared if Jordan releases Sajida al-Rishawi, a convicted would-be suicide bomber, in exchange for its pilot al-Kassasbeh.

Jordan and Japan, two nations that have supported the international campaign against ISIS, have since announced that they are willing to strike a deal with the terror group.

The Jordanian Foreign Minister said that “in terms of proof of life, we’ve sent them direct messages and, we’ve said that again publicly, asking for proof of life over the last period but haven’t got it.”

“There are indirect messages going back and forth. The deadline was this afternoon, it has been a few hours… we haven’t heard anything and we have stated publicly that in exchange for the safe return of our pilot, we’re willing, if that’s what they want to release this woman.”

The willingness to negotiate marks a dramatic shift in the policy of not negotiating with the extremist Islamic organization.

“Let me say,” Judeh said, “and make no mistake, we are committed when it comes to fighting extremism and terrorism and this doesn’t change our resolve one single iota.”

Amanpour asked the minister how much pressure the demonstrations by the father of the captive Jordanian pilot as well as around the country influenced the government’s decision to agree to the prisoner swap.

“This is a war, Christiane, and we have in any war, you have the good days and bad days. A father is a father, a mother is a mother, like I said, they have every right to feel the pain and the anguish and to express their anger sometimes."

Judeh restated that Jordan’s “efforts to release our pilot, our fighter pilot, our brave fighter pilot began weeks ago not out of pressure but out of commitment.”

Click above to watch the full interview.

Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Japan • Jordan • Latest Episode
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