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Panetta: U.S., British working to free hostages

Jan. 18, 2013 - 09:19AM   |   Last Updated: Jan. 18, 2013 - 09:19AM  |  
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta speaks Jan. 18 about the situation in Algeria at the start of his remarks at King's College in London. Panetta said there will be "no quarter for terrorists in North Africa."
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta speaks Jan. 18 about the situation in Algeria at the start of his remarks at King's College in London. Panetta said there will be "no quarter for terrorists in North Africa." (Jacquelyn Martin / AP)
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LONDON — Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says the U.S. is working with the British and Algerian governments to assess what's happening on the ground at a natural gas complex in the Sahara where Islamic militants are holding hostages from at least 10 countries.

The fate of many of the captives remains uncertain.

Speaking Friday at Kings College in London, Panetta said the U.S. is "working around the clock to ensure the safe return of our citizens."

Panetta said the terrorists should be on notice that they'll find no sanctuary in Algeria or North Africa.

He said anyone who looks to attack the U.S. will have "no place to hide."

Panetta met later Friday with British Prime Minister David Cameron. Discussion of Islamic militant operations in Mali and Algeria dominated the unscheduled meeting, senior U.S. defense officials said, though the two also discussed budget issues, Syria, Iran and how they can work with other countries to address counter-terrorism.

Senior U.S. defense officials said the two talked in-depth about Algeria, exchanging views and comparing notes about the situation unfolding there.

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