Report: Rafsanjani’s Brother on New Hostage Mission in Lebanon
BEIRUT, Lebanon (AP) _ A newspaper today reported that Iranian President Hashemi Rafsanjani had dispatched his brother to Lebanon in a new effort to win the release of Western hostages.
The conservative Beirut newspaper Ad-Diyar said Mahmoud Hashemi, Rafsanjani’s brother, held meetings with leaders of Hezbollah, or Party of God, during a weeklong, unannounced visit that ended Tuesday.
The newspaper said the envoy also met with Hussein Mousawi, who heads the Islamic Amal movement based in east Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley. The movement forms the pro-Syrian wing of Hezbollah, Iran’s main ally in Lebanon.
Ad-Diyar gave no further details and a spokesman at the Iranian Embassy, who declined to be named, said ″we usually do not comment on such reports.″
Hezbollah is believed to be the umbrella for underground Shiite fanatics holding most of the 18 Western hostages in Lebanon. Eight Americans are among those held. The longest held is Terry Anderson, chief Middle East correspondent of The Associated Press, who was abducted March 16, 1985.
Hashemi has made several secret trips to Lebanon to try to resolve the hostage situation since his brother took office Aug. 3, following the death of revolutionary patriarch Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini two months earlier.
Rafsanjani, considered a pragmatist who favors increasing Western investment in Iran to rebuild it after its eight-war with Iraq, is believed to be in a power struggle with Islamic hard-liners in his government who oppose reconciliation with the West and the release of hostages.