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Walters Sent Statements by Key Iranian to Reagan

March 16, 1987|Associated Press

NEW YORK — After interviewing a key figure in the Iran arms sales last December, ABC-TV journalist Barbara Walters passed some of his private statements on to the White House at his request.

In Washington, presidential spokesman Marlin Fitzwater said today that the White House received documents generally fitting that description.

Walters declined to detail the information she received from Manucher Ghorbanifar, the principal Iranian middleman for the arms sales, the Wall Street Journal reported. However, she said some of it dealt with alleged payments to Iranian officials.

For the President

Ghorbanifar asked that certain statements be sent to President Reagan, the newspaper said.

It quoted Walters as saying she felt it was important that the information reach the President, and she agreed to pass it on even though she "felt terrible." She also said she is preparing to broadcast information not disclosed in her Dec. 11 "20-20" interview with Ghorbanifar and Saudi businessman Adnan Khashoggi.

Fitzwater refused to say with certainty that the memos the White House received had been relayed by Walters and had reflected statements made by Ghorbanifar involving how money was handled, saying the memos bore no signatures and no dates.

"The White House did receive two documents that generally fit this description," he said when asked about the memos described by the newspaper.

Read by Reagan

Fitzwater said the notes were read by Reagan.

Asked whether he thought it unusual for memos carrying neither names nor dates to make their way to the President, Fitzwater replied: "I won't have any comment on how they got to the President. . . . They both appeared to be related to an interview of some kind."

The spokesman also told reporters that the memos, received by the White House in December and January, "were passed on to the Tower board" investigating the Iran- contra affair.

Walters interviewed Ghorbanifar and Khashoggi less than three weeks after the Iran-contra scandal hit the headlines. In the interview, Ghorbanifar said that despite the revelations of U.S. arms sales to Iran, "I see great hopes of seeing your hostages released."

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