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Thursday, 20 July, 2000, 09:21 GMT 10:21 UK
Blair appeal for missing hostess
Mr Blair met Lucie's father Tim and her sister Sophie
Mr Blair met Lucie's father Tim and her sister Sophie
Prime Minister Tony Blair has made a personal appeal to the Japanese public to come forward with leads in the hunt for missing English nightclub hostess Lucie Blackman.

The UK leader met 21-year-old Ms Blackman's father Tim and her sister Sophie after arriving in Tokyo for the G8 summit of world leaders.

It is obviously an appalling, heartbreaking story

Tony Blair
After discussing with them the progress Japanese police had made in the investigation, Mr Blair said: "It's obviously an appalling, heartbreaking story, and every parent's nightmare is to have their child working abroad and then disappear."

It is feared that Ms Blackman - who disappeared on 1 July - may have been abducted by a religious cult.

Mr Blair added: "What I have said is that we will do everything we can.

'Cult training'

"We are working closely with the Japanese authorities here and obviously we appeal to people in Japan who may know about the case to come forward and give us some leads we can follow up."

Lucie Blackman
Lucie Blackman has not been seen since going out with a customer
Deputy Superintendent Toshihiko Mii at Tokyo's Azabu police station said about 30 officers were involved in the hunt for the missing hostess but police had yet to see any "fresh developments".

He added: "We have received more than 100 phone calls from people saying they have seen her, but none of them has given us any immediate breakthrough."

Japanese media have reported that Lucie's travelling companion, Louise Phillips, received a call from a man saying Lucie was training with a religious cult and would be in meditation for at least one week.

The Blackmans said they were satisfied with the efforts being made in the investigation.

Mr Blair added: "I know the Japanese authorities are trying very hard. We are obviously going to work very closely with them here. We are doing everything we possibly can."

After the 15-minute meeting with the prime minister, Sophie said: "We told him all we knew about everything and he was very positive and said he would try and do everything he could.

"We said we were satisfied with the police investigation but we were not satisfied that Lucie hasn't been found."

Foreign Secretary Robin Cook met the family a week ago and joined them in appealing to the public to come forward with any information on Lucie.

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See also:

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Blair focuses on world stage
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01 Mar 00 | Asia-Pacific
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31 Jan 00 | Asia-Pacific
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26 Dec 98 | Asia-Pacific
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