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US relays a 'last' hostage note

The United States, with "time running out," presented Algeria with perhaps its final answer to Iran in an attempt to bring home the 52 American hostages before President Carter leaves office. After an overnight dash across the Atlantic, Deputy Secretary of State Warren Christopher explained the Carter administration's stand to Algerian Foreign Minister Muhammad Benyahia, who, diplomats said, sent it promptly to Tehran.

Diplomatic sources said big money remained at stake -- the amount of funds the US is prepared to put in a blocked Algerian Central Bank account as guarantee against an ultimate settlement of mutual financial grievances. Also, the Algerians -- acting as intermediaries in the drawn- out conflict -- wanted to discuss remaining ground rules that would be put into effect, allowing Iran to recover at least some fu nds impounded by Washington while freeing the Americans.

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