Exchange deal ends hijacking
Damascus, Syria — The world's longest plane hijacking ended peacefully Thursday, with Pakistan agreeing to free 55 political prisoners demanded by the air pirates and the three hijackers agreeing to free their 102 hostages -- including three Americans threatened with execution.
The 11-day ordeal was resolved when Pakistani negotiators in Damascus told the three hijackers they would meet their demands in full -- only minutes before the hijackers' 11 a.m. Eastern standard time deadline to kill the three Americans among their 102 captives. The official Syrian statement said Pakistani President Zia ul-Haq had informed Syrian President Hafez al-Assad that he was willing to meet the gunmen's demands.
Meanwhile, in Washington the White House said the United States had not put any pressure on Pakistan to meet the demands of hijackers of a Pakistani plane being held in Syria. President Reagan, saying "you can't do business" with terrorists, added that the hijacking situation with the three Americans on the plane "was a very difficult one for us." Deputy press secretary Larry Speakes said it was still US policy not to negotiate with terrorists.