Hostages: Wheeling and Dealing

Christopher rushes to Algiers—again—as the U.S. bids for the captives Once more the pace quickened. After eight weeks of stop-and-start negotiations for the freedom of the 52 U.S. hostages, a flurry of activity in Tehran, Washington and Algiers raised hopes last week that a possible settlement might at last be imminent. Or was it? The nation's very capacity for optimism seemed to have been blunted by 14 months of watching the cruel pendulum swing between hope and disappointment.

A rapid-fire exchange of messages volleyed between the capitals. Tantalizing public statements from Iranian...

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