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Waite Says He Was Held Under Gun in Hostage Talks

January 10, 1987|Associated Press

ROME — Terry Waite, the Archbishop of Canterbury's special envoy, said Friday that Muslim extremists held a gun at his back as he negotiated with them in Lebanon about freedom for Western hostages there.

During an interview with the Italian state television network RAI, Waite also said that "there have been debates as to whether or not I should be taken hostage and kept along with the rest" of the Westerners kidnaped by the militants.

As envoy of Archbishop Robert Runcie, the Anglican leader, Waite has traveled to the Middle East several times in the past year, seeking the release of foreigners kidnaped in Lebanon.

He called his missions in Beirut "very dangerous business. . . . Normally, I'm taken in a car to a deserted building, usually in the night. My driver then has to leave me.

"I walk into this building alone. I'm collected by someone and blindfolded; then I'm taken to another location, still blindfolded, and I have to conduct discussions while someone has a gun in my back."

During a news conference, Waite also said that, despite all the publicity surrounding the Iran arms affair, he believes that he can continue his mission to free the hostages.

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