Dubai, Jan 21 (Agencies): Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden issued a new audio-tapped message on Friday warning France of a "high price" for its policies and called for the French troops to withdraw from Afghanistan.

Laden said that the release of French hostages held in Niger depended on France's soldiers leaving Muslim lands.

"We repeat the same message to you: The release of your prisoners in the hands of our brothers is linked to the withdrawal of your soldiers from our country," said the speaker on the audiotape broadcast on Al-Jazeera television.

The satellite channel said Bin Laden was referring to two French journalists held in Afghanistan, although he did not specify if it also covered France's hostages seized in Africa.

The foreign ministry in Paris reacted swiftly, stressing that it would not bow to such threats.

"We are determined to pursue our action in favour of the Afghan people with our allies" in the NATO-led ISAF force that is fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan, ministry spokesman
Bernard Valero told reporters in Paris.

Cameraman Stephane Taponier and reporter Herve Ghesquiere, who work for France 3 public television, were seized along with three Afghan colleagues in December 2009 in
the mountainous and unstable Kapisa province, east of Kabul.

The Al-Qaeda Chief, addressing the French people, said: "The refusal of your president to withdraw from Afghanistan is the result of his obedience of America, and this refusal is a green light to kill your prisoners ...

"But we will not do this at a timing that suits him," he said, adding the warning that French President Nicolas Sarkozy's stand would "cost him and you a high price on different fronts, inside and outside France."

Bin Laden, in the tape whose authenticity was not immediately possible to determine, warned in a mocking tone that Paris "with its debt and budget deficit does not need new fronts."

The French government has said securing the release of the journalists was an "absolute priority."