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General Denies Saying Kidnappers Sold French Hostage to Libya

May 24, 1987

BEIRUT, Lebanon (AP) _ Syria’s military intelligence chief Sunday denied saying that Moslem kidnappers sold a French hostage to Libya, Beirut radio stations reported.

State and private radio quoted Brig. Gen. Ghazi Kenaan as saying he never mentioned Libya during an interview with a correspondent for the Paris magazine Le Figaro in the Bekaa Valley town of Zahleh.

″Naming Libya by the magazine is an attempt to disturb relations between Syria and that sister country,″ Kenaan was quoted as saying.

On Saturday, Le Figaro quoted the general as saying that ″one or more French hostages were sold to the Libyans. They served as a means of pressure against the French government in the conflict pitting the troops of (Chadian) President Hissene Habre against the Libyan army.″

The Habre government recently routed thousands of Libyan troops from northern Chad. France has 2,800 troops in Chad, a former French colony, to back Habre in his fight against the Libyans.

Kenaan has been supervising the pacification of Moslem west Beirut for the past three months. About 7,500 Syrian troops entered west Beirut on Feb. 22 to quell fighting among militias there.

Le Figaro quoted Kenaan as saying that ″everything possible″ is being done to free foreign hostages in Lebanon.

Twenty-four foreigners are reported missing in Lebanon and presumed kidnapped. They include eight Americans, six Frenchmen, two Britons, two West Germans, an Italian, an Irish citizen, a South Korean, an Indian and two unidentified foreigners.

Anglican church negotiator Terry Waite also disappeared after leaving a west Beirut hotel on Jan. 20 to meet with the kidnappers of two Americans.

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