McCann's 'buoyed' by developments

Missing Madeleine McCann's mother has urged people to "spare a thought and prayer" for all families similar to hers who find themselves unable to share Christmas with a loved one.

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In a Christmas message on the FindMadeleine website, Kate McCann said 2013 had passed particularly quickly but it would be a comfort if they could slow time "just a little".

Mrs McCann thanked supporters and said she and husband Gerry were relieved and buoyed by this year's developments, including Scotland Yard's review becoming an investigation, and the reopening of the case in Portugal.

British police launched their own investigation into Madeleine's disappearance earlier this year, called Operation Grange, and made renewed appeals on television in the UK, Holland and Germany.

Madeleine, then aged three, went missing from a holiday apartment where she was sleeping with her two younger siblings in Praia da Luz, Portugal, in 2007 as her parents dined nearby with friends.

The Portuguese shelved their inquiry into her disappearance in 2008, but in October said that a review had uncovered enough new information to justify reopening the case.

In her message, Mrs McCann said: "This year seems to have passed particularly quickly - a sign undoubtedly of a very busy year.

"It would still be a comfort if we could slow time just a little.

"Thankfully however there have been some very positive aspects with regards to Madeleine.

"The Metropolitan Police review becoming an investigation and, more recently, the reopening of the case in Portugal.

"We are incredibly relieved and buoyed by these developments and continue to hope for further collaboration in the near future with the possibility of a JIT (Joint Investigation Team) between Portugal and the UK to enhance the search for our dear daughter.

"Once again we would like to thank all our supporters for their commitment to Madeleine and their ongoing support of our efforts.

"Please spare a thought and prayer for all families similar to ours who will be unable to share Christmas with a special loved one.

"We wish you a wonderful Christmas and a happy and peaceful 2014.

"Kate x."

Last month, Detective Chief Inspector Andy Redwood thanked the public for thousands of messages received in the wake of new TV appeals, saying that several holidaymakers who were in Praia da Luz when the little girl vanished had made contact with his team.

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe has said British and Portuguese police should join together as one team in their investigations into what happened to Madeleine.

Speaking previously, he said: "One thing we'd like to see in the future is a joint investigation team which comes under the European community.

"It is a possibility legally, and we're working together at a political level, and at a police and judicial level, to see how we can construct that.

"If you're not careful, you end up doing things on an ad hoc basis, and for us it would be better to have that type of arrangement.

"So that's what we're trying to get agreement between the two governments and the two police services."

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