Statement by the Deputy Press Secretary for Foreign Affairs on the Release of Reverend Benjamin Weir in Lebanon

September 18, 1985

We are pleased to inform you that Reverend Benjamin Weir has been released 18 months after he was taken hostage in Lebanon. We are obviously happy for Reverend Weir and his family and friends, but we will not be satisfied and will not cease our efforts until all hostages -- American, French, and British -- have been released. This is top priority for the Reagan administration. Since the first American was seized, the President has been directly engaged in intensive efforts to liberate our citizens. He will remain involved until all of our citizens have been liberated.

This morning the President spoke to Reverend Weir, expressing relief at his release and determination to see the others freed. While there was no linkage between the release of the Atlit prisoners and the freeing of our hostages, we have hoped that repatriation of the Atlit prisoners would improve the atmosphere in the region. We, therefore, intensified our efforts when the Atlit release occurred. Thus far, these efforts have resulted in the liberation of Reverend Weir, for which we are grateful. Our efforts are continuing in order to obtain the release of the other six hostages. I am not going into any further detail on the release of Reverend Weir or what measures we are taking to obtain the release of the others because it might interfere with these efforts.

The Vice President plans to meet with the families of the six remaining hostages on Friday, when they will be in Washington. He will review for them what can be shared on our efforts to obtain release of the remaining hostages and to assure them of the administration's determination to continue these efforts.

Note: Edward P. Djerejian read the statement to reporters at 12:35 p.m. during a press briefing in the statehouse cafeteria in Concord, NH.