The Speaker of Iran’s Parliament said American envoy Robert C. McFarlane offered himself as a hostage in return for U.S. captives in Lebanon, Iran’s official news agency reported today.
McFarlane, a former U.S. national security adviser, made the offer during his secret visit to Tehran last year, the Islamic Republic News Agency quoted Speaker Hashemi Rafsanjani as having said on Wednesday.
Several of the eight American hostages in Lebanon are believed to be held by pro-Iranian Shia Muslim groups.
IRNA quoted Rafsanjani as saying that McFarlane and others who came with him told Iranian officials they would stay as Iran’s hostages in return for release of the Americans.
‘We Are Not Taking Hostages’
“We told them we are not taking hostages and this is not the task of a government or our policy,” Rafsanjani said. “If you are our friends, we will intercede and if you are our enemies, we will not do so and this is our right.”
In Washington, White House spokesman Marlin Fitzwater told reporters that he did not know anything about Rafsanjani’s assertions concerning McFarlane.
Iran and the United States said last November that McFarlane and other American officials visited Iran in an effort to establish ties with Iran’s fundamentalist government.
President Reagan said he had opened contacts with moderates in Tehran and sent arms to Iran in an effort to restore ties with the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s government, although he acknowledged that gaining the release of hostages was also a goal.