WASHINGTON, Feb 18: The Bush administration has adopted a new policy that would mandate federal review of every overseas kidnapping of an American to determine whether US intervention is warranted, the New York Times reported on Monday.

The new policy marks a significant about-face in American policy on kidnappings of US nationals, and comes as US officials cooperate with Pakistan in the search for Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl.

Under the new policy, Washington will examine every case in which an American is taken hostage in another country to assess the need for US intervention. In the past, Washington sometimes declined to review cases that did not involve American officials or members of the armed forces.

Officials said the policy encompasses a wide range of options to save hostages, from providing advice on negotiations to American-led commando raids, but said it does not require the government to become directly involved in every kidnapping.

Officials said the policy dropped a longstanding prohibition of private companies paying ransom, saying that while Washington continues to discourage such payments some companies and families might feel that they have no alternative.—AFP

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