By Al Russell.
Tripoli, 16 August:
A special committee has been formed to attempt to hasten the release of the seven Iranian hostages . . .[restrict]kidnapped in Benghazi at the end of last month, according to Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Hassan Qashqavi.
The committee has been established by the Libyan authorities and its full-time role will be to work towards the release of the hostages, in close cooperation with Iranian representatives and the Red Crescent.
Qashqavi is in Tripoli as part of an Iranian delegation liaising with Libyan authorities about the abductees, who are all employees of the Iranian Red Crescent and were kidnapped in Benghazi on 31 July.
The group were returning to the hotel Tibesti in Benghazi from the headquarters of the Libyan Red Crescent when their vehicle was stopped by gunmen and they were abducted. They are thought to be being held by an Islamist group, which believes that they are in Libya to spread Shiite Islam.
Qashqavi clarified that the seven were members of an Iranian Red Crescent team that had been operating in Libya since the revolution, at the invitation of the NTC, and had provided the rebels with around 40 tonnes of medical supplies. [/restrict]