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National Archives

Public Papers - 1989

Statement on American Hostages in the Middle East


Our grave concern over the taking and holding of American citizens as hostages has been made clear on numerous occasions in the past.

On Friday, I said that the taking of any hostage was not helpful to the Middle East peace process. The brutal and tragic events of today have underscored the validity of that statement. That position, and our firm opposition to negotiating with hostage takers, was further reinforced in my discussions this evening within the administration and in consultations with the congressional leadership.

Tonight I wish to go beyond that statement with an urgent call to all -- all parties who hold hostages in the Middle East -- to release them forthwith, as a humanitarian gesture, to begin to reverse the cycle of violence in that region.

Note: Lt. Col. William R. Higgins, USMC, chief of the U.N. peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon, was kidnaped on February 17, 1988, and executed by pro-Iranian terrorists on July 31, 1989.

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