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Ex-Hostage Criticizes Iran Arms Sales

January 25, 1987|United Press International

HARTFORD, Conn. — The Rev. Benjamin Weir, held hostage in Lebanon for 16 months, said Saturday that the Reagan Administration's secret arms sales to Iran seriously undermined U.S. credibility in the Middle East.

Weir, a Presbyterian cleric who now lives in Berkeley, Calif., spoke at a news conference after an ecumenical conference. He lived for 32 years in Lebanon and traveled throughout the region before he was kidnaped on May 8, 1984, in Beirut by Shia extremists.

He was held captive for 16 months, 14 of them in solitary confinement, before he was released on Sept. 14, 1985.

Weir repudiated the sale of arms to Iran by the Administration, which may have led to his release.

"That inconsistency and confusion has certainly undermined what was left of U.S. credibility in the Middle East," Weir said. "It certainly makes it a lot harder."

For matters to improve in the Middle East, the United States must evaluate its support of Israel and open the doors to the concerns of Palestinians and Israel's other Arab neighbors, Weir said.

"There is a great deal of underlying anger and resentment against the United States," he said.

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