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Reagan Lied on Arms-Hostage Issue, Iran Says

March 06, 1987|Associated Press

NICOSIA, Cyprus — Iranian President Ali Khamenei today accused President Reagan of lying when he said the United States did not originally plan to sell arms to Iran in return for American hostages in Lebanon.

"This is an open contradiction. (Reagan) has been compelled to speak this language before the American public," Iran's official Islamic Republic News Agency quoted Khamenei as saying at the weekly prayer meeting at Tehran University.

"One can conclude now that the present American statesmen are neither honest, nor do they enjoy real power--whether this is mental power or the power of faith. They do not even believe in their own task anyway," Khamenei said.

It was the first Iranian reaction to Reagan's Wednesday night speech on the Iran- contra affair. It was monitored in Nicosia.

Referring to the sale of U.S. weapons to Iran, Reagan declared in his address that "what began as a strategic opening to Iran deteriorated into trading arms for hostages."

Hostage Issue Important

Khamenei told his audience the hostage issue "was in fact very much important to Reagan and his Administration."

"But this was not because he really cared for the hostages, or sympathized with them, but because a number of bereaved youths in Lebanon had broken the myth of the invincibility of a superpower," he said.

Khamenei was evidently referring to Islamic Jihad, a pro-Iranian group believed linked to Iran that has claimed the kidnapings of several foreigners in Lebanon. Twenty-six foreigners, including eight Americans, are missing and presumed kidnaped in Lebanon.

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