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National Archives

Public Papers - 1990 - April

Statement by Press Secretary Fitzwater on the President's Conversations With Former Hostages Frank Reed and Robert Polhill


President Bush spoke by telephone this afternoon at approximately 5:30 p.m. with Mr. Frank Reed and the American Ambassador to Syria, Mr. Edward Djerejian. The President gave Mr. Reed greetings from the American people and offered him the complete support of the United States Government as he recovers from his ordeal. The President wished Mr. Reed well and said he hoped he would soon be reunited with his wife and family.

The phone call was placed as President Bush was visiting with Mr. Robert Polhill, who was released from captivity only last week. The President put Mr. Polhill on the telephone line for a brief conversation with Mr. Reed. They exchanged warm greetings and wished each other well. The phone call lasted several minutes, and Mr. Polhill departed the White House at approximately 6:15 p.m. The President's meeting with Mr. Polhill had lasted approximately an hour.

In the meeting, Mr. Polhill said he had a private message for the President from his captors. The President received that message in private and indicated he would not discuss the message publicly. The President and Mr. Polhill had a very warm and informal meeting in which Mr. Polhill was in excellent spirits. He described his life in captivity and gave his impressions of his captors, of the confusing situation in Beirut, and of the hardship he suffered during 3/2\ years. He spoke of his personal ordeal of survival day by day in a hostage setting. President Bush was grateful for the conversation and told Mr. Polhill how much he admired his courage and strength during this terrible period in his life. Mrs. Bush also attended the meeting.

Note: Frank Herbert Reed, director of the Lebanon International School, was kidnaped by members of the Organization of the Islamic Dawn in Beirut on September 9, 1986. Robert Polhill, an accounting professor at Beirut University College, was kidnaped by pro-Iranian terrorists in Beirut on January 24, 1987.

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