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Two French Hostages in Lebanon Reportedly Freed
[Home Edition 1]
Los Angeles Times (pre-1997 Fulltext) - Los Angeles, Calif.
Author: Meisler, Stanley
Date: Nov 11, 1986
Start Page: 1
Section: 1; Foreign Desk
Abstract (Document Summary)

Freedom for the two hostages on Armistice Day, one of France's most solemn holidays, would probably be cited by Premier Jacques Chirac as a vindication of his controversial policy of repairing relations with both Iran and Syria. This policy has aroused a good deal of scorn by critics because of the widespread belief in France that Syria had a hand in the wave of bombings that terrorized Paris two months ago.

All the anticipation came on the same day that foreign ministers of the European Communities agreed on a series of four mild sanctions against Syria for its alleged role in the abortive attempt by a Jordanian-born Palestinian to slip a bomb aboard an El Al airliner in London. There was some speculation that the release of the hostages, arranged with the obvious assistance of the Syrian government, was designed as a kind of affirmation of Syrian good intentions.

Release of the hostages would probably push a Chirac embarrassment off the front page of Paris newspapers. In an interview with Arnaud de Borchgrave, editor in chief of the Washington Times, Chirac, in an expansive defense of French policy toward Syria, had expressed doubt last week that the Syrian government was involved in the attempted El Al bombing. He repeated speculation that Israeli agents and renegade Syrian agents could have conspired to do the job and frame Syria.

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