ULTIMATUM

Japanese PM: Deadline is 'Despicable'

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Wednesday he condemns the latest ultimatum given by the Islamic State group threatening the lives of a Japanese journalist and a Jordanian pilot, as reports of secret talks were underway in Amman to free the hostages . The message, posted online Tuesday, said Japanese freelance journalist Kenji Goto and Jordanian Lt. Mu'ath al-Kaseasbeh would be killed within 24 hours unless Jordan releases Sajida al-Rishawi, an Iraqi woman who was sentenced to death in Jordan for her connection to a 2005 terrorist attack on a hotel that left 60 dead. "This was an extremely despicable act and we feel strong indignation. We strongly condemn that," Abe said. "While this is a tough situation, we remain unchanged in our stance of seeking help from the Jordanian government in securing the early release of Mr. Goto." A member of Jordan's parliament said officials were in negotiations with the militants through religious tribal leaders in Iraq. Bassam Al-Manasseer, chairman of the foreign affairs committee, said Jordan and Japan would not negotiate directly with ISIS and would not free al-Rishawi for Goto only. Japan's Deputy Foreign Minister Yasuhide Nakayama, who was in Amman to coordinate efforts with Jordan on Wednesday, refused to comment on details of the talks.