Crisis Adds Snag to Bush’s Europe Tour
Another captive of sorts in the continuing drama of the TWA hostages in Beirut is Vice President George Bush, who remained in a hotel room in this Swiss city awaiting word on his role, if any, in the denouement of the crisis.
Early Saturday, Bush announced that he would fly to Frankfurt, West Germany, to welcome the 39 Americans who, at the time, appeared to be on their way to freedom.
As the day wore on, however, Bush decided to remain in Geneva until it becomes clear when and whether the Americans will actually be set free.
The snarl disrupted a 10-day diplomatic tour of Western European capitals that would have taken the vice president to Paris by Saturday evening.
Bush spokesman Marlin Fitzwater said that the decision not to go to Frankfurt or to Paris was a matter of logistics and reflected neither optimism nor pessimism about the status of the hostage crisis. Bush himself could not be reached for comment on the snag in the hostage release plans, which came about when the hostages’ captors demanded assurances that the United States will not launch a reprisal attack against Lebanon once the Americans are freed.
Early Saturday, however, Bush had said his pleasure at the hostages’ expected release was tempered by sorrow and outrage over the murder two weeks ago of one of the hijacked airliner’s passengers, a U.S. Navy petty officer, and the apparent failure to win the release of seven Americans kidnaped in Lebanon before the hijacking.
In a brief statement made at the U.S. mission in Geneva, Bush said the problem of international terrorism is “getting worse, not better,” and he called on other nations to cooperate on counterterrorist measures.
In a later address to a Geneva conference on nuclear weapons proliferation, Bush warned that terrorists are “becoming more creative in their acts of violence in an effort to capture the world’s headlines.” He urged measures to prevent nuclear materials from falling into extremists’ hands.
Also on Saturday, Bush met with top Soviet negotiators at the U.S.-Soviet arms control talks here. Viktor P. Karpov, chief of the Soviet delegation, later reiterated Moscow’s complaint that the United States is blocking the talks by pursuing President Reagan’s research program on a space-based defense system.
For his part, Bush said that in the 40-minute meeting he had made clear Reagan’s “seriousness and conviction” about the need for progress in the Geneva talks.
Bush aides said that the vice president probably will resume his European travel schedule today or Monday, if no end to the hostage crisis appears imminent.