Saddam Says Nine French Hostages Can Leave Iraq With PM-Gulf Rdp, Bjt
NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) _ Iraqi President Saddam Hussein today ordered the release of nine French nationals, the official Iraqi News Agency reported.
The Frenchmen were among hundreds of Westerners believed held at key military and other installations Saddam fears might be attacked by the West.
It was the second gesture by Iraq toward France in as many days. On Sunday, Saddam complimented French President Francois Mitterrand for offering ″positive″ ideas to resolve the Persian Gulf crisis.
The Iraqi agency, monitored in Nicosia said: ″President Saddam Hussein has issued orders to allow some French guests to leave Iraq in the company of Mr. Gilles Munier, the president of the Association of Franco-Iraqi Friendship.″
INA, the report added, ″has learned that nine Frenchmen are included in this humanitarian gesture.″
Foreigners, mainly Westerners, were banned from traveling after the Aug. 2 Iraqi invasion of Kuwait and the subsequent annexation of the oil-rich emirate.
As of late last month, 4,200 Westerners remained in Iraq and Kuwait, including an undetermined number being held at Iraqi military installations.
In Sunday’s message, Saddam softened his confrontational stand in the gulf crisis, calling for replacing the language of ″threats and warnings″ with a dialogue. However, he again linked any solution to an Israeli pullout from the occupied territories.
The United States has rejected that proposal, insisting on an unconditional Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait.
But Mitterrand, in a speech before the U.N. General Assembly last week, stressed the need to resolve other issues, although he demanded an Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait.
He also suggested a simultaneous withdrawal of the Iraqis from Kuwait and the U.S.-led multinational force from Saudi Arabia.
In his message to Arabs and Moslems released by the official media on Sunday, Saddam said he intended to initiate contact with Paris. He said Mitterrand’s ″initiative″ could be developed to serve as a foundation for a settlement in the gulf.
But Britain and France responded that there would be no dialogue with Iraq until Saddam’s troops are out of Kuwait.
The Frenchmen to be released were identified by INA as: Bouban Jean Ive, Frank Ouzeau, Gerard Wisat, Laurant Lucal, Christophe Corrisier, Akbar Ali Ramadan, Din Mahmoud Taki, Hassan Ali Mansour Husseun, and Dorneau Michel Henry Paul. The names were transliterated from Arabic.