Al Qaeda has reportedly demanded that France lift its ban on Muslim face veils in exchange for the release of hostages being held in the Sahara.
A ransom demand of one million euros for each hostage has also been made, according to the TV station Al Arabiya.
They were kidnapped from their base in Niger last month and it is thought they were taken to the mountains of northern Mali.
The group consists of five French nationals and two Africans; they work for two French firms.
The only woman hostage is said to be in need of urgent medical treatment for cancer, having recently begun chemotherapy.
According to intermediaries, who claim to have met the kidnappers, Al Qaeda is open to negotiation on the matter.
The French foreign ministry has declined to comment on any of the latest reports.