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1991 - Mr Major’s Doorstep Interview in London

Below is the text of Mr Major’s doorstep interview in London, held on Tuesday 24th September 1991.


PRIME MINISTER:

I am very pleased indeed to be able to confirm that the British hostage, Jackie Mann, has been released and is now on his way to Damascus. I expect that he will be safely in British hands by 9.00 this evening. Mrs Mann at the moment is in Cyprus and will be flying to see him and I hope they will be able to meet in just a few hours time.

This is very good news indeed, I am delighted at this outcome and I would like to express my thanks to the Secretary General of the United Nations, the Syrian government, the Iranian government, the Israeli government and all those other people who have played a role over many months in ensuring this very satisfactory outcome.

We are very pleased about the outcome but I think we should also remember that we still have another hostage, Terry Waite, and I can imagine how his family must be feeling this evening. I would like them to know that we will be continuing to work very hard and will not be satisfied until we have Terry Waite free also and back where he belongs with his family.


QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

QUESTION:

What will you be doing to free Terry Waite?

PRIME MINISTER:

I do not think it would have been very helpful in recent months if we had been too public about the work that has been going on behind the scenes to help free Jackie Mann, the important thing is the outcome, we have not forgotten Terry Waite, we want Terry Waite back here, home with his family. We will continue the diplomacy that has proved successful on a number of occasions in recent weeks.

QUESTION:

What is Mr Mann's condition?

PRIME MINISTER:

I do not have any detailed information about Mr Mann's condition, I have heard, though with no confirmation, that he is a little unwell but I do not know yet what a little unwell may mean, I hope to find out very shortly.

QUESTION:

Have you spoken to Mrs Mann at all?

PRIME MINISTER:

No, Mrs Mann is now waiting to get on a plane at Cyprus and I think she has other things on her mind at the moment.

QUESTION:

When will Mr Mann return to the UK?

PRIME MINISTER:

That is a matter for Mr and Mrs Mann to determine, the first thing that will happen is that he will have some medical attention in Damascus, we have a medical team out there waiting to see him, he will have some medical attention, he will probably want to have some time to rest, to recuperate and to discuss what next to do with Mrs Mann, when he returns is a matter for him and I cannot tell you yet when that will be.

QUESTION:

In general terms what is going on diplomatically at the moment, was this sparked off by further concessions by the Israelis?

PRIME MINISTER:

No it is not a question of concessions by the Israelis, there has been a great deal of pressure over recent months for progress towards the general release of hostages, you have seen what has happened in recent weeks, I believe that diplomacy has been very successful. John McCarthy has been released, a number of prisoners in Israel have been released, now I am delighted Jackie Mann has been released. The policy is moving in the right direction, I have no more to say about it than that, I hope we will be able to carry it a little further.

QUESTION:

Do you want another gesture now from the Israelis?

PRIME MINISTER:

We are continuing a policy in company with others and with the tremendous work being done by the Secretary General to try and get a much greater release of hostages generally, that requires goodwill on all sides. Some progress has been made after a very long period when there was total blockage, no sign of hope and no hostages being released. So it is a hopeful time, things are moving forward, I hope and believe they may yet move forward further.