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Hostages Top Priority, U.S. Tells Families

March 17, 1986|United Press International

WASHINGTON — The State Department said today that release of the six American hostages in Lebanon is a top priority and officials met with about a dozen relatives of the captives.

A statement issued by the department, noting that Sunday was the second anniversary of captivity for William Buckley, commended the "heroic courage" of the families and branded the kidnapings a "cruel and cynical act."

The Islamic Jihad terrorist group claimed last fall to have killed Buckley, political officer at the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, but has produced no evidence that it did so.

The department also noted that today is the first anniversary of captivity for Terry Anderson, Beirut bureau chief for the Associated Press.

"They, together with Father Lawrence Jenco, Peter Kilburn, David Jacobsen and Thomas Sutherland, are innocent victims of immoral terrorism," it said.

The statement said officials had met with about a dozen relatives to bring them up to date on the Administration's "intensive efforts" to win the release of the hostages.

"The efforts are continuing and we call upon all American citizens to rally behind the hostages and their families with their prayers and moral support," it said. "Their release remains a top priority for President Reagan and members of the Administration."

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