Germany confirms two Germans missing in Iraq

Two Germans have been missing in Iraq for almost a week, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said Monday. "We cannot rule out that it was a kidnapping by force," he told reporters at an EU meeting in Brussels. "Of course we hope there is going to be a good outcome on this and needless to say we are doing all that we can to ensure that ... it ends well." Steinmeier said the two had been missing since Feb. 6, adding that a special crisis panel within the German Foreign Ministry had been set up to work on their release. He declined to give further details and did not identify the two. Speaking in Berlin, Foreign Ministry spokesman Jens Ploetner declined to answer a question on whether there had been contact with any hostage-takers. "The highest priority is the health and safety of the German citizens," he said. "We are refraining from releasing any information that we fear could make our efforts more difficult."