BEIRUT: Terry Waite, the British former hostage, met with Hezbollah in Lebanon last week, 25 years after he was taken captive by a group linked to the party.
Waite, now 73, was held for almost five years after he was taken hostage on Jan. 20 1987 while working to secure the release of other British hostages as a special envoy for the Archbishop of Canterbury.
During his trip last week, on which he was accompanied by British newspaper the Sunday Telegraph, Waite met with Ammar Moussawi, and told the Hezbollah official “that the past was the past,” according to an article he wrote for the newspaper published Sunday.
Waite was in Lebanon to bring attention to the situation of Christian refugees from Syria, and appealed to Moussawi for Hezbollah to provide more help for those in the Christian community who have fled violence.
“I expressed my concern for the Christian groups who were leaving Syria and asked if Hezbollah would make a gesture towards helping them, especially at Christmas,” Waite wrote.
Moussawi, in reply, “asked me to let him have a proposal and he would see if something could be done.”
Waite was released in Nov. 1991 after 1,763 days in captivity, most of which he spent in solitary confinement and chained to a wall. He wrote that he wanted to meet with Hezbollah as an example of the reconciliation he believes necessary for coexistence in the region.
“I believe that reconciliation between larger groups, political groups, has to begin here with our own personal reconciliation,” the Sunday Telegraph quoted him as telling Moussawi during their nearly-two hour meeting.
During his trip Waite also met with Christian Syrian refugees, and wrote of concerns that the uprising in Syria “has now been hijacked by extreme jihadists and that, for the first time in years, religious persecution is taking place where once there was harmony.”
He also wrote of the importance of encouraging coexistence in Lebanon which he said “is rapidly becoming the only country in the entire Middle East where there remains a significant Christian presence.”