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National Archives

Public Papers - 1991 - December

Statement on the Release of American Hostages in Lebanon

1991-12-04

I join Terry Anderson's family and friends in their happiness for his return to freedom after six and a half years in captivity. Speaking to Peggy Say, Terry's sister, this afternoon, I felt the joy and the tears that marked this occasion for her. Peggy and the families of the other hostages have known the tragedy and the loneliness of the captives themselves over these many years. And similarly, all Americans have shared the emotional trauma associated with hostage taking, terrorist kidnapping, and the personal tragedies that each of these hostages has experienced.

I remember meeting some of the hostages personally upon their return to Germany in those difficult hours immediately after their release. And all Americans have joined in the happiness exhibited by the hostages when they have returned to America. Those feelings are etched in our consciousness forever.

While the American hostages have now been released, we cannot say the ordeal is over. We call for the immediate, safe, and unconditional release of all those held outside the legal system in the region, including the two remaining German hostages. There are also hostages who are believed to have died while in captivity. We call for a full accounting of all these individuals, including the return of their remains to their families and loved ones. Here I would single out Colonel Richard Higgins and Mr. William Buckley, two men who gave their lives for what they believed in.

We are grateful to those whose efforts are making possible releases such as that of Terry Anderson today, and we wish them well as they continue those efforts. We thank particularly United Nations Secretary-General Perez de Cuellar and his personal representative, Mr. Picco. In addition, we thank the Governments of Iran, Syria, and Lebanon, for the role that each has played in the safe and unconditional release of these hostages held in Lebanon. This is a positive development which we welcome.

We must dedicate ourselves to ensuring that hostage taking is not resumed. Indeed, the time has come to eradicate all forms of terrorism in the region and the world. Lebanon should once more become a place where people can travel and live their lives free of the fear of violence in all its forms.

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