Iraq proposes conditions to free Western captives 4 ailing Americans are flown to Jordan

November 04, 1990|By Los Angeles Times

AMMAN, Jordan -- Iraqi leaders floated the possibility yesterday of conditional freedom for more Western hostages as four ailing Americans, three French soldiers and three Irishmen were allowed to leave Baghdad.

The freed Westerners arrived last night in Amman on an Iraqi Airways flight. The Americans were identified as Randall Trinh, 49, a Vietnamese-American from suburban Los Angeles; Raymond Gales, a diplomat who was stationed at the U.S.

Embassy in Kuwait when the Iraqis invaded Aug. 2; Dr. Abdul Kanji, 50, an Indian-born Moslem who has a medical practice in Glencoe, Ill.; and Michael Barner, 49, of Alexandria, La.

Mr. Trinh, swept from hiding in Kuwait several weeks ago and taken to Baghdad, reportedly suffered from peptic ulcers and needed surgery.

Mr. Barner said he had no idea why he was released, although he reportedly has cancer. Asked what was the worst part of his captivity, the tall, bearded Louisianian tapped his head and said: "The mind."

[In Glencoe, Dr. Kanji's wife, Fatima, told the Associated Press that she and her husband were Tanzanian-born Moslems who became U.S. citizens about eight years ago. She said they went to Iraq with their two sons on a religious pilgrimage July 30. She and the children were allowed to leave Iraq Sept. 5, but her husband, director of radiation therapy at Chicago's Mercy Hospital, had to stay behind, she said.

[Airport sources said the four freed Americans would fly to New York today via London.]

Arriving in Amman aboard the same flight that brought out the Americans were three Irishmen and three French soldiers: a captain and two non-commissioned officers who were captured by Iraqi troops Monday when they strayed into Iraqi lines after losing their way in the Saudi Arabian desert.

In Baghdad, Iraqi President Saddam Hussein announced that an unspecified number of European workers would be permitted to leave Iraq.

/# He was responding to an appeal

from Arab trade unionists, the Iraqi News Agency reported, and made the offer at a session of the National Assembly, Iraq's rubber-stamp parliament, which later approved his decision to free 700 Bulgarians.

An estimated 2,000 Americans, Europeans and Japanese are believed to be trapped in Iraq and Kuwait. Scores of the men are held as "human shields" against the possibility of a military attack by Western forces in the Persian Gulf region. Mr. Trinh reportedly was among the foreigners held at such strategic sites.

Speaker Saadi Mahdi Saleh, also addressing the National Assembly, declared that Iraq might free all the remaining hostages under one of two conditional proposals:

* "If two of the following states give guarantees not to resort to the military option." He named the Soviet Union, France, Japan, Germany and China.

* If the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Coun

cil guarantee "to keep away from a military settlement of the gulf crisis and [seek] a peaceful solution."

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Les Aspin, D-Wis., discounted the offer. "It's no deal," Mr. Aspin declared in a telephone interview from his Wisconsin home.

"The message that should go back to him is that if he wants peace, all he has to is get out of Kuwait and release all hostages."

The United States and Britain are permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, along with the Soviets, French and Chinese.

All five have voted for council resolutions demanding the unconditional withdrawal of Iraqi troops from Kuwait and the release of hostages.

Meanwhile, a fourth U.S. aircraft carrier, the Midway, moved into the gulf region in what will mark at least a temporary naval buildup. The Midway and its seven-ship battle group Alpha are due to replace a group headed by the carrier Independence.

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