[Diary of a Vengeance Foretold] Part 146

NOVEMBER 25 1988

”The minister has offered his services to secure the release of all hostages. And the Iranian Government has assured us that this corresponds with their aims.” West German official, Nov 25 1988

According to German diplomats, foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher will try to negotiate the release of foreign hostages held in Lebanon during a visit to Iran.

Genscher, who first visited Iran in 1984, announced his intention to make a second visit in September, after the release of two West Germans held in Lebanon. [1] Genscher is scheduled to arrive in Tehran this coming Sunday. About 30 West German business executives will accompany Minister Genscher.

The issue of the hostages, held by groups close to Iran, has cast a pall over relations between Teheran and Bonn.

Despite the undisputable fact that most, in not all, of the 15 foreign hostages held in Lebanon, are believed to be in the hands of Lebanese Shiite Muslim extremists loyal to Iran, Tehran officials maintained that they have no control over the activities of these groups.

Nevertheless, West German officials say that Genscher would make another plea for Tehran help with this matter. The Iranian press has also reported that the hostages were Genscher’s principal motive for the trip. The English-language Teheran Times reported that Genscher might make a special effort in the case of the Anglican Church envoy Terry Waite.

Observers believe that Iran might be willing to trade its influence for favorable European trade agreements to repair an economy ravaged by the war with Iraq. Last August, the two countries have accepted a cease-fire in the eight-year war. [2]

West Germany is among Iran’s main trading partners. According to the Economics Ministry, Iran imports more goods from West Germany than from any other country. In 1987, West Germany sold Iran $1.5 billion in goods. The goods traded included motor vehicles, heavy machinery and electronic products, and its Iranian imports totaled $500 million.

Ransom Reports Denied

West German officials, including Minister Genscher, said they won the release of the hostages Alfred Schmidt and Rudolf Cordes through hard and long negotiations.

They have acknowledged the help of Iranian and Syrian officials. Reports of ransom were forcefully denied by German officials.

However, the Hamburg newspaper Bild has reported that $22.2 million was paid for the release of Rudolph Cordes alone.

French Official to Visit Iran

Today (25/11/1988), the Iranian press agency said that Foreign Minister Roland Dumas of France will also visit Iran in the near future. In Paris, the Foreign Ministry would not comment on the report.

Last June, France restored full diplomatic relations with Iran after all French hostages held by pro-Iranian militants in Lebanon were freed.

According to the Iranian press agency, the visit was planed when a French parliamentary delegation, including as Jean-Marie Daillet, Jacques Masdeu-Arus and Yves Tavernier, met with Deputy Iranian Prime Minister Ali Reza Moayeri in Teheran.

Iran’s postwar reconstruction projects and a possible French role in them were at the core of the discussion.


(1) Bonn Hails Release of Rudolf Cordes

(2) Iran-Iraq Cease-Fire Ends 8-Year War

Bonn Official Seeks a Lebanon Hostage Role  — November 25, 1988

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