Release Shows Iran Intent to End Hostage Crisis
The release of a second American hostage in Lebanon within nine days underlines Iranian President Hashemi Rafsanjani’s resolve to end the hostage crisis which has marred Iran’s relations with the West.
It quickly earned Iran long-sought recognition of its role when President Bush on Monday praised Tehran for the first time, for helping obtain freedom for American Frank H. Reed.
Reed was freed by his Lebanese captors Monday amid an uproar in Iran over the call by a Rafsanjani aide for Tehran to hold direct talks with the United States to reap maximum returns for its help in releasing the captives.
The release also indicated that Rafsanjani was eager to keep the hostage-freedom process rolling, despite complaints about a resolution by the U.S. House last week recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
White House spokesman Marlin Fitzwater earlier Monday declined to discuss the extent of Iran’s role in the captive situation, saying: “No one knows precisely what motivates the hostage takers.”
For Iran, an end to the hostage crisis could mean greater access to Western technology and finance needed for reconstructing its economy after the 1980-88 war with Iraq.
It could also lead to the return of Iranian assets, estimated at up to $12 billion, frozen in the United States since 1979.
Iranian hard-liners, however, oppose an opening to the West.