CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- Former President Jimmy Carter told students Monday that President Reagan could learn a lesson from the Carter administration by not bowing to terrorist demands in the Middle East.
Carter told an introductory government class at the University of Virginia he was able to gain the release of 52 American hostages in 1981 from Iran by repeatingly rejecting conditions offered by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
'It was not my nature to reward kidnappers,' Carter said.
While the Iranian hostage situation in 1981 differs from current instances of Americans being held overseas, Carter said 'some principles are the same.'
Carter reminded the students he refused to apologize for past U.S. policies in Iran and rejected demands that the ailing Shah be returned to Iran for a trial.
'We were successful, as you know,' Carter said, and added, jokingly, 'A little too late for my political career.'
The hostages were released minutes after President Reagan was inaugurated to succeed Carter.
Carter was critical of most of Reagan's current policies, saying they 'are not popular with the American people.'
He accused Reagan of causing 'retrogression' in nuclear arms talks, increasing the budget deficit and turning the clock back on civil rights.