Following An Independent Course

Breaking his silence, Syria's Assad talks about Arafat, Khomeini and hostages

His troops are mired in the unending civil war in Lebanon, where 13 Western hostages are being held. Against his wishes, p.l.o. Chairman Yasser Arafat has recognized Israel's right to exist. The U.S. and Britain chastise him for harboring a Palestinian guerrilla group, some of whose members are leading suspects in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103. Yet Syria's wily President Hafez Assad appeared unruffled and even jovial last week, as he maneuvered through the region's perilous political landscape for three hours in a rare interview with TIME Assistant Managing Editors Karsten Prager and John F. Stacks, Cairo bureau chief...

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