Archbishop Doesn’t Blame Jumblatt for Waite’s Disappearance
LONDON (AP) _ The archbishop of Canterbury said Monday he did not blame Lebanese Druse leader Walid Jumblatt for the disappearance of Anglican envoy Terry Waite in Lebanon.
Jumblatt, whose militia had undertaken to protect Waite in Beirut before he vanished on Jan. 20 while attempting to free foreign hostages, conferred for more than an hour with Archbishop Robert Runcie, spiritual head of the Church of England. Waite was the archbishop’s personal envoy to Lebanon.
″The archbishop made it plain that he did not hold Mr. Jumblatt in any way responsible for Mr. Waite’s disappearance and expressed his thanks to him for the protection he had provided up to Jan. 20, when Mr. Waite insisted on leaving his guards,″ the church said in a statement after the meeting.
Jumblatt, according to the statement, ″assured the archbishop of his continuing concern for Terry Waite and his respect for his humanitarian efforts on behalf of hostages.″
The Druse leader had lunch with Foreign Office Minister Timothy Renton, but was unable to offer new information on Waite, the Foreign Office said.
Jumblatt was quoted earlier as saying he had ″no idea if he (Waite) is alive or dead.″
″I wish I could give his family hope, but I dare not do that,″ Jumblatt said in an interview with the London Daily News.
″There is now a great weight on me and morally I feel responsible for what has happened to Terry,″ Jumblatt was quoted as saying. ″That is why I have come to explain thing to the archbishop.″
Waite vanished after telling his Druse guards not to accompany him on a visit to Moslem extremists who have held two Americans hostage since 1985 - Terry Anderson, chief Middle East correspondemt for The Associated Press, and educator Thomas Sutherland.
Six other Americans and two Britons are among the 24 foreigners missing and believed held hostage in Lebanon, not including Waite.
Waite was on his fifth mission to secure the freedom of hostages when he disappeared.
During his stay in London, Jumblatt, the Lebanese tourism minister, was to visit his son, Aslan, 3, who is being treated for a stomach disorder at the Great Ormond Street Hospital for Sick Children.