PERSIAN GULF: Tantalizing Words from Tehran

Hints about the hostages amid an escalating war

The words were encouraging, but their meaning was far from clear. First Ha-jatolislam Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, speaker of the Iranian parliament, declared at an Algiers press conference that the U.S. had accepted "in principle" all of Tehran's conditions for the release of the 52 American hostages. Rafsanjani added this tantalizing statement: "If the U.S. decides tonight to implement the conditions, then we will release the hostages tomorrow."

Next day Iranian Prime Minister Mohammed Ali Raja'i broke a two-week silence on the hostage question by...

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