Statement by Principal Deputy Press Secretary Speakes on the President's Meeting With Father Lawrence Martin Jenco

August 1, 1986

The President and Mrs. Reagan met with Father Lawrence Martin Jenco in the Oval Office today. The President welcomed Father Jenco after his long and cruel ordeal and received a confidential message from him. The President noted that his happiness on this occasion is tempered by the knowledge that other Americans remain captive in Lebanon. The warm welcome that Father Jenco has received this week from the Pope, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and his friends, family, and nation serves as a tribute to a brave man and his faith. The President said he is grateful for the work of those of many different nationalities and organizations who continue to work for the safe return of all hostages -- of whatever nationality.

The President said: "Those who held Father Jenco in cruel confinement must realize that their objectives cannot be achieved by these means. They bring no sympathy or honor to themselves or to the cause they profess to support. It is time for them and those with influence over them to end this prolonged situation in the name of peace and justice. We continue to hold the captors and those who support them responsible for the safety of all the remaining hostages. We rejoice in Father Jenco's safe return. We will continue to work and pray for the release of the others, and we are prepared to continue our efforts at a dialog leading to this end.''

The meeting lasted from 2:28 p.m. to 3:01 p.m., after which the President met for 5 minutes with the Jenco family. Also present were Chief of Staff Donald Regan, Secretary of State George Shultz, Admiral John Poindexter, and Ambassador Robert Oakley.

Note: John M. Poindexter was Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, and Robert B. Oakley was Director of the Office for Counter-terrorism and Emergency Planning at the State Department.