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Dornan Goes to Syria to Discuss Efforts on Behalf of Hostages

Associated Press

Rep. Robert K. Dornan (R-Garden Grove) plans to meet Sunday in Syria with Foreign Minister Farouk Sharaa to discuss efforts to gain the release of the American hostages in Lebanon, his aide said.

Dornan arrived in Syria on Friday with a letter signed by 247 members of Congress asking Syrian President Hafez Assad to use his influence to secure the release of the Americans, said Jim Skinner, the congressman’s aide.

The letter notes the problems in finding peace in the Middle East, but, referring to the hostages, it says, “Let us be of one mind in our efforts to mitigate the anguish caused to the innocent victims of this conflict.”

It concludes by urging Assad “to demonstrate humanitarianism and help return our long-suffering American hostages to their homes and families.”

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The letter is addressed to Assad because the hostages are thought to be held by Islamic militants in the Bekaa Valley region of Lebanon, an area controlled by Syrian troops, Skinner said.

The Syrians have not guaranteed Dornan a meeting with Assad, Skinner said.

The congressman, who is staying at the home of U.S. Ambassador William Eagleton, paid for the trip out of his own pocket, Skinner said.

The hostages, all of whom were kidnaped on the streets of Beirut, include Terry Anderson, the Associated Press’ chief Middle East correspondent; the Rev. Lawrence Jenco, head of the Catholic Relief Service in Beirut; William Buckley, political officer at the American Embassy, and David Jacobsen and Thomas Sutherland, professors at the American University in Beirut.

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In a related development, the House and Senate late Thursday passed a non-binding resolution asking the organizers of the Fourth of July Statue of Liberty celebration in New York to hold a minute of silence to remember the hostages.


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