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Britain smiles as US rejoices

The beautifully modulated voice of the BBC announcer, ending the first morning program after the US hostages had been released from Iran, paused, then broke its usual formality:

"To any American citizens listening," the announcer said, "congratulations."

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"Yes, wonderful for you and for the families," said a Londoner in the City later in the morning. "The cheek of the Iranians, really. They've got four of ours now, you know & detained on grounds of espionage since last August?. Glad you finally got yours out."

"No, I don't think you gave in to blackmail," observed a British government official in the depths of Whitehall a little later still. "You got them to the bargaining table and then you gave them some of their own money and you got the best terms you could."

Britain smiled as the US rejoiced.

Now London hopes for its own four citizens to be revolved in freeing its detainees with European trade sanctions lifted. Gradually, the Thatcher government wants to resume what Lord Carrington describes as "proper representation" in Iran -- representation curtailed after Iranian students caused trouble here last year.

The attitude Iran takes on the British detainees will help to indicate the strength of moderates like President Bani-Sadr, and the Ayatollah Khomeini's own post-hostage poli cies toward the West.

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