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Iranian Speaker Offers Hostage Exchange Deal

Associated Press

Iranian Parliament Speaker Hashemi Rafsanjani said today that his country will use its influence to help free nine American hostages in Lebanon if the United States will do the same for Iranians who are hostages there.

“If you are interested in having your people held hostage in Lebanon released, then tell the Falangists to release our people who have been in their hands for years and of whom we do not have any news,” official Tehran radio quoted Rafsanjani as saying.

Speaking at a prayer sermon today, Rafsanjani, also the army’s commander in chief, said if the United States helped free Iranian hostages “we will also suggest to our well-wishers and friends in Lebanon to release any hostages they may have.”

Iranian officials have made similar statements in the past.

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Three Iranians, Ahmad Motevaselian, Hussein Moussavi and Kazem Akhavan, were kidnaped by right-wing Christian Falangist gunmen in northern Lebanon in 1982. Their Lebanese driver, who also had an Iranian passport, disappeared with them. They are widely believed to be dead.

In Beirut, a magazine reported today that British hostages held in Lebanon will be freed soon because Britain and Iran have restored ties. The weekly Ash Shiraa attributed its report to unidentified informed sources.

The report could not be independently confirmed. Ash Shiraa gained international fame when it broke the story of secret U.S. arms sales to Iran in return for the release of hostages in 1986. But the weekly, published in Muslim West Beirut, has not been accurate lately in its reports about the hostages.


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