Iran’s foreign minister Kamal Kharazi says he hopes jailed Lebanese Forces commander Samir Geagea would contribute useful information to reveal the fate of four Iranian diplomats who went missing in Lebanon during Israel’s 1982 occupation of Beirut. “President Lahoud has assured me that Mr. Geagea will be formally asked to give any information he possess about the affair,” Kharazi told a news conference with which he wound up a three-day visit to Beirut on Friday.
Geagea took the LF command in 1985 after a power struggle with Elie Hobeika, who was the LF security chief when his militiamen seized the four diplomats at a highway checkpoint in northern Lebanon as they were fleeing occupied Beirut to neighboring Syria via Lebanon’s north port city of Tripoli early in July of 1982. Kharazi said he had stressed in his talks with President Lahoud and Hizbullah Secretary-General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah that the affair of the missing Iranians should be a focal point in the second stage of prisoners swap between Hizbullah and Israel under German auspices. Authorities in Tehran are convinced that the four missing diplomats are alive in Israel despite Israel’s repeated denials that it holds them, Kharazi said.
He also asserted that Iran would do its best to help determine thefate of missing Israeli airman Ron Arad, although Iran isnot officially a party to the swap negotiations. “Concerning Mr. Arad, I confirm that if we have any information we will exert maximum efforts to help in thismatter, but I would also like to say that the main sides of these negotiations are Hizbullah and the Germans,” said Kharazi. “No one knows where Arad is and in which country he is,” Kharazi said, adding that Nasrallah is determined to try find out what happened to Arad. In return for satisfactory information on Arad, Israel would release Samir Kantar, Lebanon’s longest-held prisoner in Israel.