His appearance on the network came as a task force of Australian negotiators arrived in Baghdad to help search for 63-year-old Douglas Wood.

Citing security concerns, the government has refused to explain the team’s operations other than say it would work with allies and the Iraqi government.

The Australian government, which has already asked for the help of the United Nations, believes negotiations with local leaders are the most likely way of securing his release.

“In a number of incidences where hostages have been successfully recovered, it’s been either tribal or religious leaders that have played a key role in facilitating that recovery,” said Defence Minister Robert Hill.

But Senator Hill admitted he was pessimistic Mr Wood would be found alive.

“You can’t look at the history of hostage taking over the past few years in Iraq and have confidence in that outcome,” he said after returning from visiting Australian troops in southern Iraq.

It’s now believed Mr Wood may have been taken from his Baghdad apartment 24 or 48 hours before the release of a DVD of the Australian man pleading for his life and asking for the withdrawal of foreign troops from Iraq.

Mr Wood, who has lived in the United States for more than a decade and is married to an American, had been working on construction projects in Iraq.

The Australian government says it won’t withdraw its troops and repeated its stance of refusing to pay a ransom for Mr Wood’s return.

But it says it can’t stop his family from doing so.

“Well you wouldn’t have the capacity to stop someone else doing it. But we wouldn’t be in favour of ransom being paid for the reason we’ve described,” said Mr Downer.

“We have a lot of other Australians in Iraq and we don’t want Australia to get a reputation for being a country that pays ransoms otherwise other Australians will be kidnapped in order to get money.”

A former hostage in Iraq says public support for the withdrawal of foreign troops from the country will help to secure Mr Wood’s release.

Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena was released in March this year, one month after she was taken hostage outside a mosque in Baghdad.

She told Australia’s ABC radio public support within Italy for the removal of troops helped to secure her freedom and Australians should follow suit.