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Page last updated at 08:33 GMT, Saturday, 19 January 2013

Panetta 'very concerned' about Algeria hostages

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In conversation with James Naughtie US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta said that the US is "very concerned about the hostages" trapped in a gas plant in Algeria, adding that there is "no justification" for terrorist action of any kind". Secretary Panetta said that the important thing is that the US works with the Algerians "because lives are at stake".

He told James Naughtie that the US "will take all necessary steps" to protect their people from the wider threat of Al-Qaeda affiliates such as AQIM, who are responsible for the situation in Algeria. He said that their operation "remains primarily a military and intelligence struggle."

On the question of Britain's defence relationship with Europe, Secretary Panetta said that Britain's role is "absolutely essential" to the transatlantic alliance, adding that Britain "will always remain a very important member of Nato."


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