LONDON — Western governments, hostages and their anxious relatives welcomed Saddam Hussein's announcement today that he will free all hostages, but world leaders said they will still demand Iraq's full compliance with U.N. resolutions.
In London, British Prime Minister John Major said, "Saddam Hussein still has to withdraw totally and unconditionally from Kuwait and the legitimate government must be restored."
French Foreign Minister Roland Dumas said Hussein's decision was "going in the right direction. It's a good sign. Now we have to wait for this decision to be executed."
There was a spontaneous celebration at the Al-Mansour Melia Hotel in downtown Baghdad, where several hostages were brought from strategic sites to meet with visiting family members.
"We did it at last, and now we can go home for Christmas," said Susan Dring, who traveled to Baghdad last week to try to win her husband's freedom.
The reaction from hostage relatives around the world ranged from cautious optimism to uncontained joy.
Bev Holstin of Eureka, Calif., whose husband, Dennis, is being held, said that her first reaction was "elation. Shock (that) they're letting them all go.
"It makes me feel great and relieved."
Sue Dorrington, whose British husband is being held in Baghdad, said she was "over the moon. It's what we've prayed and prayed for."
"I have been in tears all morning since I heard the news. I just hope it is true," said Linda Grant, part of a group of 30 women related to British Airways employees who planned to go to Baghdad this weekend.
Relatives of Americans held in Iraq were also delighted.
"There were times I couldn't eat, I couldn't sleep," said Doris Whatley of Shreveport, La. "All of a sudden I am a changed person . . . because my husband is coming home."