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British PM Cameron postpones EU speech over Algerian crisis

Prime Minister David Cameron has postponed a speech on Europe he was scheduled to give in the Netherlands on Friday because of the ongoing hostage drama in Algeria. He also confirmed the death of one British citizen.

British Prime Minister David Cameron on Thursday postponed a speech on Europe, in order to stay in Britain and focus on the Algerian hostage crisis, Downing Street said.

Cameron was due to deliver an address on his vision for Britain's future within the EU in Amsterdam on Friday.

"We face a very bad situation at this BP gas compound in Algeria. A number of British citizens have been taken hostage," Cameron said in a statement on the public BBC broadcaster, adding that the government was aware of at least one death.

A British man was killed when Islamist gunmen stormed the gas plant near In Amenas on Wednesday. Several more are believed to be hostages.

"It is a very dangerous, a very uncertain, a very fluid situation and I think we have to prepare ourselves for the possibility of bad news ahead," Cameron said.

The facility is jointly operated by BP, Norway's Statoil and Algerian state-run company Sonatrach.

Cameron's eagerly-awaited speech in the Netherlands was expected to advocate renegotiating the terms of Britain's European Union membership, potentially offering a public referendum on the proposals after the country's next general election, due no later than 2015.

hc/msh (Reuters, AFP, dpa)