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Secretary's Interview on "Meet the Press"
Q. Before we get into the U.S.-Soviet relationship, I want to ask you about reports this morning from the Middle East that the six American hostages being held in Lebanon may soon appear at a news conference and state their views in some form or another, or the Reverend Jenko may be released. Do you have any information on this?
A. Only what I've heard reported. Of course, we welcome seeing them, if they are to appear, alive. We welcome any release, but we want all of the hostages back.
Q. You've got some indication, then, that there may, in fact, be some movement on getting one or the six back?
A. Only these reports that have been telephoned in.
Q. Nothing through diplomatic channels?
Q. There was a clearly implied threat as well in that phone call, the threat being that after the news conference, and I quote: "The American Government will assume full responsibility for the lives of the hostages." What would the United States do if these people start killing hostages?
A. The message that the Reverend Weir delivered essentially linked the fate of American hostages to the fate of prisoners being held by Kuwait. We don't
agree with the approach of bargaining with people who are kidnapping or hijacking or whatever, and we will be following this very closely.
Q. What will you do then if you're not willing to make the deal? What will you do if they make good on their threat and start killing hostages?
A. I'm not going to discuss that question.
Q. But you will not go to the Kuwait Government under any conditions?
A. We don't think it is wise to pressure the release of people who are being held for, in effect, blowing up things in Kuwait and killing people there, in exchange for the hostages being held, wherever they're being held, probably in Lebanon. All that kind of thing does is invite people to take other hostages, and you endanger the lives of others in that process.
Q. Turning to the U.S.-Soviet situation, there's a lot of excitement in this town about the new Soviet proposal, but is there any change whatever in the Soviet …