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Beirut Hostages

Volume 126: debated on Monday 1 February 1988

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To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what contacts have been made with the International Committee of the Red Cross regarding the locations, safety and fate of British hostages being held in Beirut.

The International Committee of the Red Cross cannot be involved in negotiations with captors but would act as a channel if necessary as part of arrangements agreed by others. No claim has been made by those holding the British hostages. A formal ICRC role is not therefore feasible, although Her Majesty's embassy in Beirut has informal contact with the local ICRC representative.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if any discussions have taken place with other Governments whose nationals are held hostage in Beirut, Lebanon, on establishing a common strategy for dealing with the kidnappers.

We have worked hard with our partners and allies to formulate a common policy in dealing with terrorism. All our European partners gave a firm undertaking at the European Council in December 1986 not to make concessions under duress to terrorists or their sponsors. At the Venice economic summit in June 1987, Heads of State and Government confirmed their commitment to the same principle.