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France Marks 1,000th Day Of Journalist’s Captivity

February 16, 1988

PARIS (AP) _ A somber nation marked the 1,000th day of captivity Tuesday of journalist Jean-Paul Kauffmann, but neither French nor Iranian officials offered much hope that the hostage would leave Lebanon soon.

Marathon runners carried a large chain to symbolize Kauffmann’s captivity during a 1,000-kilometer trek from Brittany in northwest France to a barge on the Seine, where politicians and loved ones called for Kauffmann’s release.

″It is important that the captors know that all of France is united,″ his wife, Joelle.

″I came here to express my solidarity,″ said Human Rights Minister Claude Malhuret.

The Newspaper Guild of America, the Prague-based International Organization of Journalists and the Journalists’ Committee for the Liberation of French Hostages in Lebanon all issued statements appealing for the freeing of Kauffmann and other captives.

The education ministry asked that the statement by the French group be read in classrooms.

But the name of another hostage, Middle East researcher Michel Seurat, abducted with Kauffmann on May 22, 1985, was barely uttered.The Shitte Moslem group Islamic Jihad, which claimed the abductions, announced March 5, 1986, that Seurat had been executed.

Seurat’s wife, Mary, asked that his name no longer be mentioned in nightly newscasts that count off the hostages’ days of captivity.

″We would like even more to be close to them, to tell them to hold on, that nothing will be neglected and nothing is,″ President Francois Mitterrand said on television.

″But it is so hard, so difficult in the face of this pitiless act to arrange that Jean-Paul Kauffmann and our other Frenchmen held hostage be freed one day.″

Kauffmann, 43, a reporter for the newsweekly Evenement du Jeudi, and Seurat were taken hostage as they drove from the Beirut airport following Kauffmann’s arrival.

Two other French hostages, diplomats Marcel Carton, 64, and Marcel Fontaine, 45, kidnapped March 22, 1985, have passed their 1,000th days as captives.

Terry Anderson, chief Middle East correspondent for The Associated Press, is the longest held of the 22 foreign hostages in Lebanon. He was captured March 16, 1985.

Six French hostages, most of them held by the Organization of Revolutionary Justice, have been freed since conservative Premier Jacques Chirac came to power in March 1986.

In each case, France thanked Iran, which has influence over the groups holding Westerners captive.

Iranian Vice Minister Ali Reza Moayeri, in a French television interview Tuesday, said that Iran was not to be counted on for the freeing of more hostages.

Iran ″benefits from a very important influence (in Lebanon) that can be used to free Western hostages, including French, but at a time when we have satisfying relations with France,″ Moayeri said.

″For the moment, diplomatic relations being broken between our two countries, no move in favor of the hostages can be undertaken.″

France severed relations with Iran on July 17 after a dispute over an embassy employee who refused to submit to questioning about a series of bombings in Paris.

″Never would we have imagined seeing the 1,000 days,″ said Kauffmann’s mother, Odette. ″I never thought myself capable of facing such a test.″

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