Obama will not change policy against paying ransoms for hostages

US President Barack Obama - pictured above on Tuesday hosting a meeting with his Ebola response team at the White House - has ordered a comprehensive review of US policy governing efforts to free American hostages but still opposes the paym
US President Barack Obama - pictured above on Tuesday hosting a meeting with his Ebola response team at the White House - has ordered a comprehensive review of US policy governing efforts to free American hostages but still opposes the payment of ransoms, his officials said on Tuesday. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - US President Barack Obama, who has ordered a comprehensive review of US policy governing efforts to free American hostages, still opposes the payment of ransoms, the White House said on Tuesday.

Mr Obama ordered the review last summer in light of the increasing number of US citizens taken hostage by the Islamic State and other militant groups.

In recent months, Islamic State militants have beheaded three Americans.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters that Mr Obama felt a review was warranted by the increased number of kidnappings of Americans.

"The one thing that I do want to make clear, though, is, this review does not include a reconsideration about longstanding policy of the United States government that ransoms should not be paid to terrorist organisations that are holding hostages," Mr  Earnest said.

He said Mr Obama believes that paying ransoms could lead to trouble over the long term.

"We don't want to put other American citizens at even greater risk when they're around the globe. And that, knowing that terrorist organisations can extract a ransom from the United States, if they take a hostage only puts American citizens at greater risk," he said.