New talks in Tehran on hostages

Algerian envoys, carrying the latest US message over terms for the re lease of the American hostages, met with Iranian officials, presumably to deliver the American document. The Algerian delegation is acting as go-between in the indirect dialogue between Tehran and Washington.

One Algerian said he did not know how long the current phase in the exchanges , which began last month after the Iranian Majlis (parliament) approved four conditions for the hostages' release, would last.

The American message, which clarifies an earlier response to the release terms, was taken to Algiers by Warren M. Christopher, the US deputy secretary of state, who indicated some progress was being made. But he stressed that the issues involved were complicated. Washington has said that while it accepts the Iranian conditions in principle, legal and financial obstacles make full compliance difficult.

Iran wants the United States to pledge not to interfere in Iran's affairs, lift a freeze on impounded Iranian assets, abandon legal claims against Iran by US companies and individuals, and return the late Shah's wealth.

US officials have said that only the demand for US noninterference and the lifting of the freeze were easy to carry out.

Iran has also said it wants an explicit US reply to the conditions, complaining that the first US message not only failed to give a direct answer but also added other proposals.

Mr. Christopher's comment that the matter was still complex indicated that Iran would not get the straightforward response it wants.

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