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U.S. 'Begging for' Hostage Aid--Iranian : Speaker of Parliament Calls Conditions for Help Reasonable

November 07, 1986|Associated Press

NICOSIA, Cyprus — The speaker of the Iranian Parliament said today that his country's conditions for helping win the release of American hostages in Lebanon are reasonable and that the United States is begging for talks with Iran.

Hashemi Rafsanjani, a powerful figure in the clergy-led Iranian government, also denied reports in the United States that Washington worked with Israel to ship Iran military spare parts and missiles to win the release of three Americans held captive in Lebanon: David P. Jacobsen, Father Lawrence Martin Jenco and the Rev. Benjamin Weir.

Jacobsen returned to the United States today after his release Sunday. Jenco was freed last July and Weir in September, 1985.

"We manufacture the main weapons we need at home and we purchase the spare parts for American-made planes from world dealers," Tehran radio quoted Rafsanjani as saying. "We would never trample on our principles by buying weapons from Israel."

The radio report, monitored in Nicosia, did not say whether Rafsanjani commented on reports that the United States has sent military parts directly to Iran.

Israel Pooh-Poohs Reports

(The Israeli Foreign Ministry today dismissed reports that Israel served as a conduit in a U.S.-Iranian "arms-for-hostages" deal, calling them "journalistic speculation," United Press International reported from Jerusalem.)

Rafsanjani said Washington is seeking talks with Tehran in hopes of securing the release of the remaining captives, at least some of whom are held by Shia Muslims believed loyal to Iran.

"The United States is using every channel to beg Iran to accept establishing a dialogue with it," the official radio station quoted Rafsanjani as saying in a Friday prayer sermon at Tehran University. "And in this respect, it is trying to use the question of the hostages in Lebanon as a means to correct its past mistakes."

Rafsanjani said Tuesday that Robert C. McFarlane, a former U.S. national security adviser, traveled clandestinely to Tehran to try to mend U.S.-Iranian relations. The speaker said McFarlane and four others were confined for five days and expelled without seeing any officials.

Washington has refused to confirm or deny the mission, which news reports have linked to efforts to free the hostages.

'Our Definite Victory'

"The fact that it wishes to reach Iran by this means is indicative of our definite victory and the defeat of America," the speaker was quoted as saying today.

Rafsanjani has listed Iran's conditions for intervening on behalf of the hostages as delivery of arms and spare parts paid for under the regime of the late Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, return of Iranian assets blocked in the United States after the 1979 revolution and release of political prisoners in Israel.

Iranian demands are "not irrational nor despicable nor arrogant, but reasonable," Rafsanjani was quoted as saying.

IRNA, the official Iranian news agency, quoted him as saying that, even if the demands are met and the United States stops what he called criminal acts, "our responsibility will be limited to that of mediator."

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