Norwegian envoy thanks Duterte for negotiating captive’s release

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Norwegian Ambassador to the Philippines Erik Forner is grateful to the efforts of incoming President Rodrigo Duterte in negotiating the release of Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad.

Davao City (CNN Philippines) — Norwegian Ambassador to the Philippines Erik Forner expressed gratitude to President-elect Rodrigo Duterte for his help in negotiating the possible release of Norwegian Kjartan Sekkingstad.

 “We are very thankful for what you are doing,” Forner told Duterte during their meeting at the Presidential Guest House in Panacan, Davao City on Friday.

Sekkingstad is still being held hostage by the Abu Sayyaf Group. Filipina Marites Flor, who was released by the terror group on Friday, was also in the meeting.

“He really needs your help. But I am so sorry because Kjartan is not here,” Flor told Ambassador Forner, as seen in a video released Radio TV Malacanang.

Incoming Peace Process Adviser Jess Dureza said negotiations continue for Sekkingstad’s release.

Duterte, who spoke about the hostages at the Davao City Police’s turnover of command ceremony on Friday, also shared the latest information he got on the Norwegian hostage.

Hindi pa raw naka-cross because of the rough seas, I was told,” Duterte said.

[Translation: "They have yet to cross because of the rough seas, I was told."]

Samal Island kidnapping

The Abu Sayyaf abducted Sekkingstad, Flor, and Canadians Robert Hall and John Ridsdel on September 21, 2015 at a resort on Samal Island.

The militant group initially asked for ₱1 billion for each of the four hostages, but lowered it to ₱300 million after moving the deadline from April 8 to April 25.

The Abu Sayyaf beheaded Hall and Ridsdel after no ransom was paid.

President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III last week said a private group was negotiating for Sekkingstad’s release despite the Philippine government’s no-ransom policy.

Aquino also said he once considered declaring martial law in the conflict-stricken province but dropped the idea because there was no guarantee it would lead to the rescue of the hostages.

Also read: PNP: Abu Sayyaf targeting Indonesians, Malaysians because they pay ransom

Also read: 3 Abu Sayyaf members killed, Duterte promises 'day of reckoning'