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Chirac Denies Paying Ransom for 2 Captives
[Home Edition]
Los Angeles Times (pre-1997 Fulltext) - Los Angeles, Calif.
Author: Meisler, Stanley
Date: Nov 29, 1987
Start Page: 8
Section: 1; Foreign Desk
Abstract (Document Summary)

[Jean-Louis Normandin], who was held for 20 months, hugged his 8-year-old son, Antoine, and lifted him in his arms. Normandin's 61-year-old father told reporters he had come with "a little gift of chocolate" for his son. Auque's mother was there to hug her son. Both former hostages were greeted warmly by [Jacques Chirac].

Because it is widely assumed in France that the kidnapers in Beirut are heavily influenced by Iran, the suspicion about payment of either ransom or a grant of some special favor or concession to Iran was a natural reaction to the release of Normandin and Auque. Relations between France and Iran had seemed to be in a poor state at the time of the release.

Normandin and Auque returned from Beirut by helicopter as far as Cyprus, then by a civilian jetliner that refueled at Corfu, Greece, and flew on to Corsica, where the two men were greeted by French Interior Minister Charles Pasqua, who reportedly was in charge of the operation that led to their release. From Corsica, the two former hostages and Pasqua were flown on to Paris in a government plane.

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