"I have decided to do this for moral and not political reasons," the ailing Islamic leader told Aljazeera in an interview from his bedside on Tuesday.

 

During his interview, Madani insisted he had not consulted the French or Italian governments before beginning his hunger strike. "I have absolutely no connections to any foreign government", he said.

 

He said the hunger strike was dedicated to the liberation of those who sought freedom. "I am ready to die for the liberation of those who serve just causes, but not for those hired to kill others," Madani said.

 

French journalists Christian Chesnot and Georges Malbrunot have been held captive in Iraq since 20 August, while Italian aid workers Simona Pari and Simona Torretta were kidnapped one week ago.

 

Importance

 

Frattini has appealed to captors
over Arabic television channels

Meanwhile, Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini told Aljazeera on Tuesday his country would not leave any stone unturned for the release of the two aid workers.

 

Frattini said Iraqis realised the importance of the human roles played by Italian citizens in Iraq.

 

In another interview to Al-Arabiya television, Frattini said his country would not listen to threats by the captors for the release of the two aid workers.

 

He appealed on television to the human values found in all religions for their release.

 

"In the name of human values that respect human lives and are part of all religions, we demand the release of the Italian hostages ... "

Franco Frattini,
foreign minister, Italy

Human values

 

"In the name of human values that respect human lives and are part of all religions, we demand the release of the Italian hostages who were carrying out humanitarian work, hoping that this demand is met," he was quoted as saying.

Every day, Italy hears thanks from the Iraqi people whose country Italy has helped rebuild and secure, Frattini said.

  

"We only hear words of thanks, and we will never hear the threats that the kidnappers might come up with," Frattini said. 

  

Italy's government supported the US-led war in Iraq and contributed about 3000 troops after Saddam Hussein's ouster.