The call came on Thursday as France seeks information on a French newspaper reporter who went missing three weeks ago in Iraq and in the face of a management ban imposed after hostage-taking and violence against foreigners in Iraq.

"There are volunteers ready to go to Iraq despite the dangers linked to terrorism, despite the risk of kidnapping, because they believe that these risks are part of their profession," the union covering reporters at the main public channels France 2 and France 3 - the Society of Journalists - said in a statement.

According to the Society of Journalists (SDJ), France Televisions president Marc Tessier has barred journalists working for state-owned networks from travelling to Iraq, with landmark elections there set to take place on Sunday. 

French President Jacques Chirac warned journalists to stay out of Iraq following the 5 January disappearance of Florence Aubenas, 43, a senior correspondent for the newspaper Liberation. 

Aubenas and her Iraqi translator Husayn Hanun al-Saadi have not been seen or heard from since they left her Baghdad hotel on that day. 

Representatives of France's biggest media outlets met on Monday to express solidarity with Aubenas and discuss ways of pooling their efforts in covering Iraq to minimise the risks to journalists on the ground. 

Two other French reporters, Georges Malbrunot of Le Figaro
newspaper and Christian Chesnot of Radio France Internationale, were released by fighters in Iraq on 21 December after being held hostage for four months.