Reagan Sought Aid in Freeing 7, Assad Says
President Hafez Assad of Syria says that President Reagan asked him for help in securing the release of seven Americans kidnaped in Lebanon in the last 14 months but that Syrian efforts have failed, Beirut newspapers reported today.
The newspapers quoted Assad as saying in Damascus that Reagan contacted him by telephone and asked for help.
“I promised him to do what I can,” Assad was quoted as telling a group of Muslim clergymen during a dinner marking the holy month of Ramadan. “Officials in Syria are still making contacts, but they haven’t reached any result yet. . . . But (they) will go on trying.”
Assad said Syria was able to contact the kidnapers and tried to persuade them to free the hostages. “They have turned down our good offices,” he was quoted as saying.
He did not identify the kidnapers.
“We told them that we distinguish between humanitarian matters and politics. . . . We believe that America is responsible for all our predicaments. But there is a code of honor between the combatants. War itself has its code of ethics,” Assad was quoted as saying.
“It is difficult to deal with these groups in Lebanon,” he added.
The shadowy Islamic Jihad organization claimed responsibility for the kidnaping of most of the seven Americans since March, 1984.
The group, believed to be made up of radical Shia Muslims with ties to Iran, has demanded the release of 17 comrades convicted and imprisoned in Kuwait on charges of setting off explosions at the American and French embassies in December, 1983.