LONDON — Church of England envoy Terry Waite returned from Beirut on Tuesday after failing to win the Christmas release of four American hostages, despite a face-to-face meeting with their Muslim captors.
He urged the hostages' families to be "courageous" and vowed to pursue his mission.
The bearded trouble-shooter for the Archbishop of Canterbury had hoped to win a Christmas gesture from the Islamic extremist kidnapers, believed to be members of the pro-Iranian Islamic Jihad terror group, and he openly admitted disappointment on that count.
"Naturally, one would have hoped for more movement at this stage," Waite said. "We have this setback, but by no means are we put back."
Waite said he had received assurances the hostages were well. He said he had a Christmas message of hope for the hostages' families to "keep courageous, and all of us who are involved in this matter will be persistent, and we will see it through."