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Waite, Sutherland reunited with families

By PAUL WALSH United Press International

Terry Waite came home to a warm if soggy welcome Tuesday in England and American Thomas Sutherland arrived at a U.S. military base in Germany for a check-up, and both former hostages reiterated that their captors had promised to free soon the remaining captives in Lebanon.

'Ladies and gentlemen, after 1,763 days in chains, it's an overwhelming experience to come back and receive your greetings,' Waite said to a welcoming crowd at a hangar at British air force base outside London.

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Waite, 52, and Sutherland, 60, were freed Monday by the Islamic Jihad, brought to Damascus, Syria, and handed over to their respective governments in the latest success in a U.N. drive to end the 9-year-old hostage crisis.

Remaining Westerners held in Lebanon are Associated Press Beirut bureau chief Terry Anderson and fellow Americans Joseph James Cicippio and Alann Steen, as well as Germans Heinrich Struebig and Thomas Kemptner. Italian Alberto Molinari was reported dead by the Lebanese police this year.

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Waite was kidnapped in Beirut Jan. 20, 1987, while trying to negotiate the release of other hostages on behalf of then-Archbishop of Canterbury Robert Runcie. The Scottish-born Sutherland, dean of the agriculture department of the American University of Beirut, was kidnapped June 9, 1985, making him the second longest-held captive.

Waite stopped briefly on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus at dawn Tuesday, and after a champagne breakfast, flew to Britain aboard a VC-10 jet sitting on the jump seat between the pilot and co-pilot.

Arriving in cold rainy weather at the Royal Air Force base Lyneham, he was greeted by Runcie and British Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd before reuniting with his wife Frances and four children.

'From the bottom of my heart, I thank you for turning out on such an awful day, but a typically English day,' said Waite.

Waite thanked U.N. Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar and his Middle East envoy, Giandomenico Picco, 'for their hard and persistent work' on behalf of all hostages in the Middle East.

Waite, reiterating remarks he made in Syria after his release Monday, said he had been assured that Cicippio and Steen would be free 'in a few days time,' and that Anderson would be freed 'by the end of this month.'

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'I trust the Hezbollah and those who hold these men will honor the commitment they made to us,' he added. The pro-Iranian Hezbollah, or Party of God, is a fundamentalist Muslim group believed behind the kidnappings.

Waite said Anderson was freed from his chains for the first time Monday after 'we had made a special plea to our guards.'

He said he had no specific information about the two German hostages, but hoped they would be freed 'by the end of the year.'

Sutherland expressed similar hopes for remaining hostages after he arrived at a U.S. military hospital in Wiesbaden to follow the path of other freed U.S. hostages who go there for medical and psychological examinations.

Holding a large bouquet of flowers and standing bare-headed in a predawn rain, Sutherland told well-wishers and reporters: 'I'm very sorry that I couldn't bring Terry Anderson with me as well, your colleague. But they assured us ... he would be out in about a couple weeks from now, by the end of the month.

Sutherland added that Cicippio and Steen 'are also supposed to be released within a few days. It's become an embarrassment to them to keep on holding hostages.'

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Sutherland, who appeared remarkably fit for a man who had been a captive for nearly 6 years, was reunited with his wife Jean and his daughter, Kit, and had lunch with them in his suite at the Wiesbaden facility.

A spokesman at the U.S. facility said Sutherland continued to undergo medical tests Tuesday afternoon.

Waite, during his arrival statement, recalled 'all those' captive in the Middle East without specifically referring to Israel's detention of about 350 Arabs in a strip of southern Lebanon that borders the Jewish state, a region Israel calls a 'security zone' to prevent terror attacks.NEWLN: more

xxx the month.

'Before that, the other two fellows, Joseph Cicippio and Alann Steen, are also supposed to be released within a few days, in point of fact,' added Sutherland, who appeared remarkably fit for a man who had been a captive for nearly 6 years. 'It's become an embarrassment to them to keep on holding hostages.'

Sutherland's comments echoed those made Monday by Waite.

Sutherland and Waite said they were 'chained to the wall' throughout their captivity, being freed for only 10 minutes a day to attend to personal hygiene. Sutherland said Anderson was no longer chained but still confined in a room with little fresh air and light.

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Both former hostages thanked the United Nations and the governments of Lebanon, Syria and Iran for interceding on the captives' behalf.

In the United States Monday night, CBS Evening News reported that Waite served as a secret envoy to former Reagan administration aide Oliver North, the architect of the clandestine arms-for-hostage dealings between the White House and the Iranian government during the mid-1980s.

CBS said North had told other members of the administration he had provided Waite with a miniature transmitter to carry on his trips to track movements of the hostages. The network did not cite a source for its information.

North acknowledged meeting with Waite but denied the report, terming it 'absolute hogwash.'

Their release formed part of a swap of Western hostages held in Lebanon for Arabs held by Israel in a deal brokered by the United Nations that intensified Aug. 8, when Briton John McCarthy was freed to deliver a letter on the plight of the hostages to Perez de Cuellar.

At U.N. headquarters in New York, Perez de Cuellar said he believed the Islamic Jihad expected no reciprocation for releasing Waite and Sutherland.

'The reason for the support of the groups and of the Iranian and Syrian governments is, I am sure, for humanitarian reasons,' he said. 'As you know, I have nothing to offer them in exchange.'

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In Washington, White House spokesman Marlin Fitzwater said the release of Waite and Sutherland was 'a time of joy for them and their families.'

'Our joy is mixed, however, with deep concern over those who remain in captivity,' Fitzwater said. 'We call again for the release of all those in the region who are held hostage outside the process of law. All of them must be free.'

Sutherland's daughter, Kit, flew from Fort Collins, Colo., to New York to meet with other family members, then all were to fly to Wiesbaden to greet the former hostage on his return to the West. 'It will be a very happy Thanksgiving,' Kit Sutherland said. 'We have a lot to give thanks for.'

The release followed the weekend arrival in Damascus of U.N. hostage troubleshooter Giandomenico Picco, who arranged previous releases of other hostages earlier this year. It also followed a weekend report in Iran by the English-language Tehran Times that an American and a Briton would be freed soon and that Picco was working to achieve a new breakthrough in Damascus.

The number of kidnapped foreigners in Lebanon rose as high as 20 after a wave of kidnapping broke out in 1984, but many of the captives were released as a result of ransoms or because of poor health.

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With Iran, the patron of Lebanese fundamentalists, appearing willing to mend fences with the West, the United Nations this year stepped in and arranged the release of several captives.

The U.N. role intensified sharply when McCarthy was released carrying a letter from the kidnappers urging the world body to intervene to resolve the hostage problem on condition that Israel reciprocate by releasing Arab prisoners.

As a result of U.N. efforts, American Edward Tracy was freed Aug. 11, Briton Jack Mann was released Sept. 24 and American Jesse Turner was set free Oct. 21.

The imprisonment of some 350 Arabs held by Israel or its surrogate militia, the South Lebanon Army, and the fate of some four Israeli servicemen missing in Lebanon also have played their part in the hostage puzzle.

Forty-eight Westerners -- journalists, businessmen and professors -- have been kidnapped in Lebanon since 1982. They include 20 Americans, 12 French citizens, seven Britons, five Germans, one South Korean, two Swedes and an Italian.

Of the Americans kidnapped, 14 have been freed, three have died in captivity and three remain hostage. Of the French, 11 have been freed and one died in captivity. Of the Britons, four have been freed and three died. Of the Germans, three have been freed and two are still held. The South Korean and both Swedes have been released. The Italian is believed to have been killed shortly after his abduction.

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