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Hostage's Sister Backs Iran Arms Deals : Says 'You're Damn Right I Do' in Apologetic Letter to Reagan

November 25, 1986|United Press International

BATAVIA, N.Y. — The sister of Lebanon hostage Terry Anderson has written an apologetic letter to President Reagan to support his dealings with Iran and said she is in favor of trading weapons for the captives.

" 'Arms for Hostages' is a gross oversimplification of what has gone into this initiative, but the next time somebody asks me if I want my brother back under those circumstances . . . my answer will be, 'You're damn right I do!' " Peggy Say said in her letter.

Say, who regularly prods the Reagan Administration to work for the hostages' freedom, apologized to Reagan for not coming to his support sooner.

"I felt that I had been very quick to criticize when I thought nothing was being done, so I owed it to the President to be supportive when he made an effort," she told United Press International.

"I have had an adversary relationship with the State Department and the Administration, but we've never been enemies. They have never chastised me for anything I've said or done."

In her letter, Say said she felt "a deep sense of shame" for having avoided comment on the Reagan Administration's initiative to improve relations with Iran in hopes of winning the release of the five Americans held in Lebanon.

"Your own example of strength and courage in the face of criticism and censure prompted me to stand up and be counted as one more person that believes you pursued the right and just course," Say said. "You placed the lives and freedom of American citizens over all other considerations."

Anderson, 39, chief Middle East correspondent and Beirut bureau manager for Associated Press, was kidnaped March 16, 1985. A group called Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for his abduction and also is believed to hold Thomas Sutherland, 55, the dean of American University of Beirut's agriculture school.

Three other Americans are held in Lebanon by different organizations.

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