Iran Asks France for Exiles, Offers Help on Hostages
PARIS (AP) _ Iran has asked France to extradite Iranian opposition leaders with ″blood on their hands″ in exchange for help in seeking the release of French hostages in Beirut, an Iranian official said Thursday.
Vice Premier Ali Reza Moayeri, the most senior Iranian to visit Paris since the 1979 Iranian revolution, denied Iran is linked to groups that have taken Westerners hostage in Lebanon, but said his country would help.
Extremist groups in Lebanon are believed to be holding at least nine French hostages and five Americans, some for more than a year. Sources have said that for Iran to seek the hostages’ release, it must first settle three main differences with France.
Iran wants France to extradite Iranian exiles, repay a $1 billion loan former Iranian monarch Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi gave a French-led nuclear consortium, and stop selling weapons to Iraq, which invaded Iran in 1980.
Moayeri told a news conference he had obtained promises from France concerning the loan, but he did not elaborate. He also said Iran had asked France to observe a ″positive neutrality″ regarding Iraq and not sign any new arms contracts with that nation.
Moayeri indicated that months ago, Iran formalized its extradition demand under a 1974 agreement between the two nations.
″We respect French laws on the right of asylum for political refugees, but these people cannot call themselves political refugees and pretend to have that status,″ he said, referring to exiles ″whose hands are dirtied with blood.″
Moayeri refused to name the exiles Iran wants extradited, but he appeared to refer in particular to Massoud Rajavi, leader of the People’s Mujahedeen of Iran.
Rajavi fled to France in July 1981 with former President Abolhassan Bani- Sadr, and has his headquarters in a bunker-style complex north of Paris. The Mujahedeen is trying to topple the regime of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini through propaganda and internal means, including armed attacks.
Moayeri also said Iran has ″no relation″ to the Beirut hostage problem.
But he added: ″We always make efforts to aid hostages because hostage- taking is counter to our Islamic convictions ... and we will use our influence″ to obtain their freedom.
A group calling itself Islamic Jihad has claimed it is holding at least four of the French hostages and some of the captive Americans. It is thought to have ties to Iran.
Asked if he was prepared to ask the captors to free the hostages, Moayeri said he had ″no go-betweens to whom to address such a message.″
On Wednesday, Moayeri met with Prime Minister Jacques Chirac and President Francois Mitterrand. He said afterward that the talks were ″on the whole, positive.″
Government spokesman Denis Baudouin said Chirac’s talks with Moayeri were ″fruitful regarding the financial contention between Paris and Tehran and regarding the individual situations of certain Iranians in France.″ He did not elaborate, but said Paris was ″very attentive to (any) help ... Iran might be able to bring in freeing the hostages.″
The American hostages are: Peter Kilburn, 60, of San Francisco, librarian at the American University of Beirut; Terry Anderson, 38, Lorain, Ohio, chief Middle East correspondent for The Associated Press; David Jacobsen, 54, Huntington Beach, Calif., director of the American University Hospital; Thomas Sutherland, 54, the university’s agriculture dean; and William Buckley, 57, Medford, Mass., U.S. Embassy political officer.
The French hostages are: Marcel Fontaine, 45, vice Consul at the French Embassy; Marcel Carton, 62, the embassy’s protocol officer; Michel Seurat, 37, a researcher at a study center; journalist Jean-Paul Kauffmann, 41; Phillipe Rochot, 39, Georges Hansen, 45, Aurel Cornea, 54, and Jean-Louis Normandin, 34, members of a television crew; and retired automobile dealer Camille Sontag, 85,
Islamic Jihad has claimed responsibility for most of the kidnappings, but other groups claiming involvement in some abductions include the Armed Lebanese Revolutionary Factions and the Revolutionary Organization of Socialist Moslems.
In exchange for their hostages, Islamic Jihad has demanded the release of 17 people convicted in Kuwait of the December 1983 terrorist bombings of the U.S. and French embassies.