The Rev. Benjamin Weir, a United States missionary held hostage in Lebanon nearly 500 days, has been released and President Reagan said yesterday he would not be satisfied until the six other American captives are freed. ``I talked with Rev. Weir from Air Force One this morning but I will not be satisfied until all the hostages, the other six, are released,'' Mr. Reagan said here, confirming an announcement by the Presbyterian Church USA that the minister had been freed.
The Rev. Mr. Weir had been missing since May, 8, 1984, when he was abducted by gunmen outside his west Beirut home. A group calling itself Islamic Jihad (Holy War) claimed responsibility for kidnapping him, six other Americans, and several other foreigners.
A spokeswoman in New York for the Presbyterian Church said Mr. Weir was in good health and would appear at a news conference today in Washington.
Vice-President George Bush is to meet families of the six remaining hostages in Washington tomorrow.
The Rev. Weir was one of seven Americans and six other foreigners held hostage in Lebanon, and US embassy officials in Beirut had been unusually close-mouthed about efforts to free the captives.
Muslim sources said that Syria was trying to persuade Lebanese Muslim groups to free the Americans, four Frenchman, and a Briton seized since March 1984. Italian businessman Alberto Molinari disappeared last week.
The six other missing Americans are journalist Terry Anderson of the Associated Press; William Buckley, political officer of the US embassy in Beirut; David Jacobsen, director of the American University hospital; the Rev. Lawrence Jenco of Catholic Relief; Peter Kilburn, an American University librarian; and Thomas Sutherland, dean of agriculture at the American University in Beirut.
Their captors had been demanding that Kuwait free comrades jailed for bombings directed against Western targets in that oil-rich nation.
Higher arms outlays OK'd by Japanese
The Japanese government, under pressure from the US to strengthen its defenses, approved a controversial defense plan Wednesday that is likely to exceed a long-observed 1 percent ceiling on military spending. The $76.5 billion plan for 1986-1990 calls for an annual increase of 7.9 percent in defense spending, compared with growth in the 6 percent range over the past three years. The new military budget amounts to roughly 1.04 percent of current projections for Japan's gross national product for the five-year period.
Foreign Minister Shintaro Abe said the new plan would not necessarily exceed the ceiling. ``It depends on what the GNP will be,'' he said.
The Japanese government has been restrained in raising defense spending by strong antimilitary sentiment in the nation, a constitutional ban on offensive capabilities, and Finance Ministry attempts to stem budget deficits.
Angola says S. Africa made big raids into its territory
South Africa said its planes carried out reconaissance flights Tuesday to help ground forces fighting the South-West Africa People's Organization. But Angola said South Africa made air raids on Angolan forces, hurting a government drive against a rebel group, the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA). An Angolan Defense Ministry communiqu'e issued Tuesday night in Luanda said: ``The South African Air Force carried out massive strikes against our units engaged in actions against the puppet bandits of UNITA 19 km [10 miles] from Mavinga.''
Another suicide driver strikes at south Lebanon roadblock
A suicide car bomber blew himself up yesterday in the second attack on pro-Israel militia troops in south Lebanon in two days, according to Lebanese security sources contacted from Tel Aviv. The sources said there were no casualties other than the drivers in the two attacks, although a Lebanese leftist militia group reported that the attack Tuesday at a roadblock caused 30 casualties.
Ugandan government forces wrest towns from guerrillas
Ugandan government forces have driven National Resistance Army guerrillas from a series of towns north of Kampala, regaining control of nearly 75 miles of key road, travelers reported yesterday. The government push appeared to confirm the effective end of a moribund cease-fire between the government and the country's strongest rebel group. The truce began in July when the army overthrew President Milton Obote.
Tunnel details announced for English Channel link
An Anglo-French consortium, the Channel Tunnel Group (CTG), announced its plans yesterday for an English Channel tunnel, linking Britain with continental Europe under the sea. The $2.7 billion plans for 31-mile-long twin tunnels for fast rail traffic and cars between Folkestone and Calais will be presented in October to the British and French governments for approval.
New Trident sub begins tests; old Poseidon being scrapped
The new Trident submarine USS Alaska began sea trials yesterday and the Navy has already begun dismantling an old Poseidon sub to comply with US-Soviet arms agreements, the Pentagon announced. If the Alaska had started sea trials while the Poseidon sub remained in service with all of its missiles intact, the two submarines would have put the US over the missile limits set by the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaties treaties with Moscow.
July jobless rates were down in 25 states from a year ago
Unemployment rates in July were below those of a year ago in 25 states and the District of Columbia, the Labor Department reported yes- terday. The largest over-the-year declines took place in Alabama, down 2.4 percentage points to 9.3 percent; New York, down 2.1 to 6.1 percent; and Pennsylvania, down 1.7 to 7.8 percent.
House panel to bar public during tax-reform debate
The House Ways and Means Committee, meeting privately to discuss procedures for considering President Reagan's tax bill, voted 27 to 2 Wednesday to bar the public, reporters, and lobbyists from its deliberations. As usual, Treasury Department officials will be allowed into the sessions.
Apple Computer chief submits his resignation
Steven Jobs, chairman of Apple Computer Inc., sent the company a letter of resignation Tuesday. Mr. Jobs told Apple's board of directors last week that he planned to start a new company and take several employees away from Apple. He tendered his resignation, but the board refused it and asked him to defer it for a week, his letter said.