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West European Media Applaud Reagan Speech

March 06, 1987|Associated Press

LONDON — Commentators in Western Europe commended President Reagan on Thursday for admitting he made mistakes in the Iran- contra affair, but the Soviet Union said that his speech was full of contradictions.

West European governments had no official reaction. British and French officials said they could not comment on what they called a U.S. domestic matter.

Reagan's speech Wednesday night was too late for many European newspapers, but it dominated morning radio and television news.

Radio station WDR in Cologne, West Germany, said in a commentary that Reagan "spoke like in his better days--confident, strong, energetic--and the effect was like the old days, optimistic and showing little of the political typhoon that has swirled around him for the past three months."

Cites Possible Trouble

David McNeil, the British Broadcasting Corp. correspondent in Washington, said Reagan still could be in trouble because he did not concede that his original policy of dealing with Iran was flawed.

The President said the original approach to Iran had "deteriorated" into a trade of arms for American hostages held in Lebanon.

British national newspapers put his remarks under such headlines as "Reagan Owns Up to Mistakes Over Iran Arms" in the Times, and "He's Off the Hook" in the London Evening Standard.

The liberal Guardian, often critical of Reagan, said he exceeded the expectations of his closest friends in Washington by declaring: "I take full responsibility."

Britain's leading business daily, the Financial Times, said a "chastened" President had "appealed to the American people for a renewal of their trust and confidence in his leadership."

In the Soviet Union, the official news agency Tass said the speech "abounded in contradictory statements."

Calls Statement Inaccurate

"For instance, he said that he was silent over Irangate for which he has 'paid a price' . . . (but) everybody remembers well that Reagan has made a special statement on Irangate, in which developments were spelled out, to put it mildly, inaccurately," Tass said.

In his speech, Reagan said he had been silent for three months, since his last comment in November.

State-run Moscow radio said Reagan, attempting to restore Americans' "weakened trust" in him, admitted a mistake that "boiled down to an arms-for-hostages deal."

The first comment from communist Hungary was in Budapest's Esti Hirlap newspaper. It said that, while admitting his responsibility in the Iran arms scandal, "President Reagan was quite unwilling to offer an apology to U.S. public opinion or the Congress and only went to the length of saying he would draw a lesson from the affair."

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