PARIS — The Foreign Ministry today denied allegations by a Lebanese group holding French captives that Paris is coordinating its policy on the hostages with the United States.
"The action engaged by the French government in view of obtaining freedom of French still held in Lebanon is determined by (France) alone, and independent of anyone else," said a ministry statement issued today.
The Lebanese terrorist group Islamic Jihad issued a statement Tuesday in Beirut claiming that France has submitted to orders from Washington "for a total coordination with the great Satan on the hostages problem."
The Islamic Jihad statement claimed that there were "signs of a solution for the hostages' situation" in March but that the United States told France not to respond to the group's overtures.
"Consequently, the door was slammed shut for any solution," said the typewritten statement delivered to a Western television network in Beirut. A five-minute videotape of one of the French captives was delivered with it.
'Long and Difficult'
Seven Frenchmen and four Americans are missing in Lebanon, and Islamic Jihad has said it kidnaped the Americans and four of the Frenchmen. The group has said it killed two of the hostages, but their bodies have not been found.
Foreign Minister Jean-Bernard Raimond told reporters today: "The conversations we have had with those who could exercise influence (on the kidnapers) are going normally. It is long and difficult.
"I don't see any change (in policy) that could be linked to this communique" from Islamic Jihad, he said.
In Santa Barbara, Calif., White House spokesman Larry Speakes said in response to the claim of U.S. influence on Paris, "I never heard that one way or the other."
The statement by Islamic Jihad, or Islamic Holy War, also renewed its demand that two Iraqi opposition activists deported from France to Iraq in February be returned to Paris.
'Any Negative Act'
If that is not done, the statement said, Islamic Jihad will "bear no responsibility for any negative act that would affect the lives of the hostages."
The French Foreign Ministry replied in a statement Tuesday: "The two Iraqi citizens mentioned in the Islamic Jihad communique recently asked for and received their visa to return to France.
"They told our ambassador in Iraq . . . of the intention to return to France at the time of the opening of university to resume their studies at the University of Paris."
The Iraqis, Fawzi Hamzeh and Hassan Kheireddine, were deported from France as part of a roundup of suspects after a series of terrorist attacks. They are Shia Muslims. Islamic Jihad is believed made up of Shias who are loyal to Iraq's enemy, Iran.