Shaikh Hisham al-Dulaymi on Saturday said the talks with Kuwait and Gulf Link Transport Company would resume on Sunday to try to win the release of three Indians, three Kenyans and an Egyptian kidnapped in Iraq.

   

"So far the outcome is positive. We have agreed on many issues, but we still need time. The company said it was ready to help the Iraqi people," al-Dulaymi said, adding that he expected a deal could be reached early on Sunday.

   

"We are working for a humanitarian cause and hopefully we will get them back home safely," he said, saying that he was asking for patience from the kidnappers - a group calling itself the "Black Banners" brigade of the Islamic Secret Army.

 

Impossible

   

"We have agreed on many issues, but we still need time"

Shaikh Hisham al-Dulaymi,
mediator

A source at the talks who declined to be identified said earlier the Kuwaiti firm had agreed to one of the demands of the kidnappers - ceasing to work in Iraq. But the firm told al-Dulaymi that another demand - the release of Iraqi prisoners in Kuwait - was impossible for a private company to achieve.

   

The talks were also focussing on compensation which the kidnappers want the firm to pay for Iraqi victims of fighting and of US air strikes in Falluja.

   

Al-Dulaymi is the head of a major Iraqi tribal group and said he had acted as mediator in freeing other hostages in Iraq, including three Japanese who were released in April and two Russians freed the following month.

 

Evacuation

  

Manmohan Singh says his
government aware of problems

An Iraqi government source said the Iraqi authorities were speaking to foreign transport companies to urge them to employ Iraqi drivers in an effort to stem the wave of kidnappings.

 

Meanwhile,  India has said it is considering evacuating about 6,000 of its nationals from Iraq.

  

The Press Trust of India news agency quoted Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who is attending a summit in Thailand, as saying a contingency plan is being finalised to bring home Indians in Iraq.

  

"The government is aware of the problems and all preparations are on the anvil," Singh told the news agency in Bangkok on Saturday.

 

Dozens of foreign hostages have been seized in recent months, most of them truck drivers working for foreign companies delivering supplies to US forces or Iraqi companies.

At least eight captives have been killed - four of them beheaded.