Terry Anderson began his fifth year as a hostage inLebanon Thursday with Bush administration officials reiterating that their policy of making no concessions is the best course.
Bush, who took office barely two months ago, has continued the former Reagan administration's policies that he helped develop as vice president, U.S. officials said."In terms of our policy, there has been no change, and I don't foresee one," said a State Department Mideast expert who refused to be identified by name. He called the policy the only one that might work.
Since the Reagan administration was embarrassed in November 1986 by revelations it had sold weapons to Iran, the U.S. policy has been, "No concessions, but we're willing to talk to anyone," another official said.
But Sen. Daniel P. Moynihan, D-N.Y., a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said he would not accept "the explanation that nothing can be done." Moynihan was introducing a resolution condemning hostage-taking.
"Something must be done, the executive branch must seek to use every avenue, formal and informal, to win the hostages' freedom," Moynihan said in a statement released Wednesday by his office.
On Capitol Hill, several groups were holding a ceremony for Anderson, 41, a correspondent for The Associated Press. Sponsors include No Greater Love, a humanitarian organization, and the Journalists Committee to Free Terry Anderson.
Anderson's sister, Peggy Say of Cadiz, Ky., a leader in the drive to win her brother's freedom, was attending. She has been critical of U.S. government efforts on behalf of the hostages.
"You want to hope they are working on it, but let's face it, four years speaks for itself," she said. Say said she does not think the Bush administration has made any new drives to free the hostages. "Basically, things are just status quo."
She listed specific initiatives the United States could pursue, including payments to the families of Iranians killed last July when the USS Vincennes shot down an Iranian jetliner in the Persian Gulf. The State Department said it is working on a payment plan.
"You begin to wonder what it takes to move people," Say said. "They have heard and read how hostages have died, how they have gone mad, how they exist from day to day in the most barbaric conditions and the world does not respond."
Officials say different factions hold the nine American hostages, who were seized in Lebanon, but the factions are elements of the umbrella group, Hezbollah, over which Iran exhibits control. The United States has called for the unconditional release of all hostages before it will talk with Iran.