UN panel in Iran appears closer to seeing hostages

A United Nations commission investigating Iran's grievances against the former Shah appeared closer Sunday to visiting the 50 American hostages being held in the United States Embassy here.

The exact time for a possible meeting was uncertain, because the radical Muslim students who have been holding the Americans for 120 days said crucial details were still to be worked out.

A spokesman for the ruling Revolutionary Council, Hassan Habibi, told Reuters in a telephone interview that there was no major obstacle of principle to the panel's seeing the hostages. the key to the matter appeared to be whether the commission would take as evidence documents seized by the students in the embassy and whether it would interview hostages as part of its investigation.

The panel had wanted "to see the hostages as simple hostages, whereas Iran wanted them to see the hostages as witnesses," Mr. Habibi said. He added that the commission had agreed to take the documents discovered in the embassy as evidence in its inquiry.

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