Gaddafi son said hopeful over Austrian hostages

A son of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi is mediating in the case of two Austrians held by al Qaeda in north Africa and believes a release could come within hours, an Austrian politician said on Saturday. Saif al-Islam, who heads the Gaddafi Foundation charity, was in touch with the kidnappers in Mali, a spokesman for Carinthia governor Joerg Haider told Reuters. “Our information from Libya is that the negotiations in Mali have reached a decisive phase and … in the next few hours there could be a decision in this matter … a release,” the spokesman quoted Haider as saying. But he said it could take longer. “It could be tomorrow or the next day,” he said. The mediation of Gaddafi’s son, who has studied in Austria and is a friend of right-wing populist Haider, raised some hopes for the release of the two Austrian tourists who were seized in Tunisia last month and are reported to be held in northern Mali. Austrian foreign ministry spokesman Peter Launsky-Tieffenthal said a meeting of the crisis team dealing with the hostages on Saturday evening had not been informed of any imminent release. “The crisis team has had no indication of that kind of dramatic development,” he told Reuters. Tiemoko Diallo repots.