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Iraq Transition

Straw: Weeks of careful planning

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Straw: A multinational operation involving troops and civilians from a number of countries.

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LONDON, England (CNN) -- The text of Foreign Secretary Jack Straw's statement about the release of hostage Norman Kember:

"The three hostages -- Norman Kember, the British hostage, and two Canadian hostages -- have been released as a result of a multinational force operation which took place earlier today.

"British forces were involved in this operation. It follows weeks and weeks of very careful work by our military and coalition personnel in Iraq and many civilians as well.

"I have, on the two occasions I have been to Iraq since Christmas, spoken to the great team that has been involved in trying to secure the release of these hostages and I am delighted that now we have a happy ending to this terrible ordeal for Norman Kember, for his family, for the Canadian hostages and for their families as well.

"I spoke about half an hour ago to Mrs Kember. The Foreign Office have kept in very close touch with her and I have spoken to her from time to time.

"It, of course, goes without saying that she is absolutely delighted, elated with this news. But the families will need time and space to deal with what is happy news and I hope that the British and international media will respect their wishes here.

"There is one last very sad point, which is that there were four hostages captured originally, including one American, Mr Fox, and it is a matter of great sorrow to everybody that he was killed a little time ago.

"I understand that Mr Kember is in reasonable condition and he is now in the Green Zone. The two Canadians had to have hospital treatment.

"I have got no further information that I can give you about the nature of this operation. It was an operation led by the multinational force. It involved British forces. I am sorry, I can't give you any further information about this and it is very important that I should not.

"The really important thing is that this is wonderful news for the family and it is a huge tribute to the professionalism of the multinational forces and the Iraqi forces that they have been able to achieve this result.

"It is the result of a team effort involving military and civilian personnel from a number of countries, including, let me say, Canadian personnel who I was able to meet when I was in Baghdad last."

Straw was asked when Kember would be returning to the UK, and responded: "That's a matter to be decided. What is really important is that Norman Kember and his two Canadian colleagues are safe."

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