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Muslims lean on Iran to put quick end to hostage crisis

Muslim world is sending out an appeal to Iran, a fellow Islamic country, to solve the hostage problem rapidly "in the spirit of Islamic tolerance." That is the recommendation, at least, of a key committee of Islamic foreign ministers meeting here in a mood of frustration and impatience with the long drawn-out hostage crisis.

The same resolution, adopted by the Islamic conference's political committee, also calls on the United States to refrain from any further military actions that could impede a solution.

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The appeal to both Iran and the US, which will subsequently be debated by the plenary session, was termed "balanced" by an official conference spokesman. In addition to appeals for American restraint, the resolution strongly condemned the recent American military "aggression" against Iran and denounced threats or the use of force or economic sanctions against Iran.

The conference of Middle Eastern, African, and Asian nations, which last met in January in emergency session to condemn the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, has never publicly objected to Iran's taking of the American hostages. While the resolution calls for solutions, it nowhere suggests the hostages simply be freed.

But delegations here in the Pakistan capital have been pressing Iranian Foreign Minister Sadeq Ghotbzadeh to come up with an honorable settlement. They see the American-Iranian crisis as a tinderbox for potential global conflict and as a diversion of Islamic and worldwide attention from what they see as more pressing problems -- the continued Soviet troops presence in Afghanistan and Palestinian rights.

The exhortation to Iran to solve the hostage problem quickly was pushed by Saudi Arabia in the committee, which includes representatives of all 38 participating nations and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).

Iran refused to accept the language unless it was coupled with the call to the United States to "make it possible" for the Iranian government to reach a settlement.

In another development, an Afghan rebel leader appealed to the Islamic conference members to sever diplomatic and economic relations with the Soviet Union and to provide cash and arms to the rebel groups fighting Soviet troops and the Soviet-directed Afghan Army.

Abdul Rahsoul Sayaf, leader of the Islamic alliance for the liberation of Afghanistan, also urged Muslim nations to break diplomatic relations with the Babrak Karmal government in Kabul and to maintain a steady drumbeat of criticism of the Soviets for their occupation of Afghanistan. Mr. Sayaf spoke before the political committee on behalf of several rebel organizations whose leaders have been seated as members of the Iranian delegation. He was heard over the objections of Libya, Syria, South Yemen, and the PLO.

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The conference, however, is unlikely to do more than take polite note of the rebel appeals. The political committee is putting final touches on a resolution aimed at a political solution.

A resolution advanced by Pakistan would set up a special Islamic foreign ministers' committee to explore solutions through consultations -- which apparently could include talks in Kabul and Moscow -- and a possible international conference sponsored by the United Nations or other international organizations.

While it expresses "deep concern" over the continued Soviet military presence and insists on immediate and total withdrawal of all troops, the language of the resolution is considerably tamer than the fierce denunciations and condemnations of Soviet military aggression that emanated from the Islamic nations's January emergency session.

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