Former hostage pays visit to Lebanon
Terry Waite, a Briton who was held hostage in Lebanon for nearly five years, returned Monday to Beirut for the first time since his release over 12 years ago.
"I'm very glad to be back in Lebanon," Waite told reporters at Beirut International Airport.
Waite was trying to negotiate the release of Western hostages in his capacity as a special envoy of the archbishop of Canterbury when he was taken hostage in January 1987. He was released in September 1991 after 1,760 days in captivity.
He returned to Beirut on behalf of Y Care International, the YMCA's development agency which he helped found 20 years ago. He described his visit as a fact-finding trip to see what is being done and to bring a little support to the people who were doing the work.
In addition, Waite said he had no particular concerns about being back in Lebanon and would not mind meeting with his former captors.
"I'm sure that they have changed. They have grown and developed just as much as I have," he said. Waite, however, said he was not making any attempts to arrange such a meeting.
Of his years in captivity, The AP, cited Waite as saying, "they were difficult years and they were years of suffering. But one always has to remember this ... that my suffering doesn't compare much to what other people have gone through."
He also said he held no grudges against anyone.
"What you have to do in life is not look back on old grievances, but look forward positively," he said.
Later, crammed in the airport elevator with a crowd of journalists, Waite joked, "I didn't expect to be taken captive so soon!"
Meanwhile, as president of Y Care, Waite plans to visit Palestinian refugee camps in northern Lebanon Tuesday. He is scheduled to hold a press conference Wednesday and will leave Thursday to visit rehabilitation and training centers for youths in east Jerusalem. He also hopes to visit the Gaza Strip. (Albawaba.com)
© 2004 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)