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Diplomats called back for meet on hostages

New Delhi, June 25: India is summoning home all its ambassadors in West Asia for a crisis meeting to evolve a cross-nation strategy to rescue 39 nationals abducted in Iraq by suspected militants of the extremist Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Foreign secretary Sujatha Singh will meet the ambassadors on June 29, ministry of external affairs spokesperson and joint secretary Syed Akbaruddin said today.

The move to call all the envoys — except India’s ambassador in Baghdad who will stay there to co-ordinate efforts to evacuate other Indians stranded in central Iraq’s conflict zone — comes at a time New Delhi is struggling to expedite the release of the abducted men, held in Mosul.

But today, India managed to evacuate two of 46 nurses trapped in Tikrit, the hometown of former Iraq ruler Saddam Hussein which too has been overrun by ISIS militants. The two nurses have reached Karbala and will be moved to Baghdad soon, officials said. Many of the remaining 44 nurses want to stay back in Tikrit.

The ISIS has effectively cleaved Iraq into three parts — Kurdistan in the north, the south controlled by official Iraqi forces, and the centre that the militants hold. The group, a splinter of al Qaida, has declared its intention of laying claim on Baghdad. Mosul and Tikrit both lie in the ISIS-held central part of Iraq.