Sunday, January 02, 2005

Rafsanjani and the Lebanon Hostages


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in the House of Representatives


Mr. COUGHLIN. Mr. Speaker, in recent days we have read numerous press reports indicating that an end to the captivity of Americans held hostage in Lebanon may be near. Earlier this week, an Associated Press report quoted an editorial in the Tehran Times, a paper said to be close to the thinking of Iranian President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, as saying `Our own assessment indicates that this thorny issue can be sorted out in the near future in a sincere spirit by sincere people.' Other reports note that President Rafsanjani's brother, Mahmoud Hashemi, recently met with the Syrian Foreign Minister in order to coordinate efforts on the release of the hostages.

Of course, we have heard such optimistic reports before, and it behooves us to react with some caution. I am hopeful, however, that the Government of Iran, which has been a key sponsor of the Hezbollah, the parent organization of most if not all of the various groups that have claimed responsibility for the kidnapping of Americans in Lebanon, is now ready to move forward on this issue. I am equally hopeful that the Syrian Government, which has been heavily involved in the affairs of Lebanon, will lend its active support to efforts to resolve this situation.

Mr. Speaker, we can only guess at the amount of suffering inflicted on the 10 Americans still unaccounted for in Lebanon--my constituent Joseph Cicippio, William Buckley, Terry Anderson, Thomas Sutherland, Frank Reed, Edward Tracy, Alann Steen, Jesse Turner, Robert Polhill, and Col. Rich Higgins. In fact, all indications are that William Buckley and Colonel Higgins were treated so inhumanely that they have died as a consequence.

We do know, however, just how much the families of these Americans have suffered. They too have been victimized by the cruelty and the deprivations inflicted upon the hostages, to almost the same degree. I know firsthand of the great distress imposed upon members of Joseph Cicippio's family, many of whom reside in the congressional district I represent.

And indeed, the greatest outrage of this wholly appalling episode is that the holding of hostages, for whatever reason, is not a sanction meted out against a government. Rather, it is a most extreme, inappropriate, and ruthless violation of the basic rights of individual human beings and their families.

Mr. Speaker, at this point it appears President Rafsanjani holds the key to the lock that keeps these innocent Americans in captivity. I believe the Congress identifies with the view espoused by President Bush that `good will begets good will'--that progress on this crucial matter will result in progress in United States-Iranian relations. It is certain, however, that in the absence of progress on the hostage issue, positive United States-Iranian relations cannot develop.

I know all of my colleagues in the House, and all Americans, hope that all those with influence over the kidnapers will use it to effect the immediate freedom of these individuals.

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Rafsanjani's political moderation praised by Moderation and Development Party

IranMania News: "Rafsanjani's political moderation praised

Sunday, January 02, 2005 - ©2004
LONDON, Jan 2 (IranMania) - Radicalism has ended and the radical current should learn from its past, the spokesman for Moderation and Development Party said on Saturday.

Gholamali Dehqan also told ISNA that the time is now ripe for a moderate political dialogue and State Expediency Council Chairman Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani symbolizes the moderate political current.

"Radical political currents confronted Rafsanjani throughout the past 25 years. This was due to the fact that radical currents are idealistic and ignore social realities.

They were looking for utopia that could only be materialized in their minds. Hence, they were always critical towards the status quo," he said.

Dehqan noted that radical forces created problems for the country after the victory of the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

"Some radical forces act as if they are the only ones devoted to the system and others are traitors," he said."