Ugandan President Idi Amin has no intention of holding hostage the Americans he has forbidden to leave the country until they meet with him Monday, Uganda Radio said today.
"This has never crossed his mind." the government-controlled radio quoted an Amin spokesman as saying. "He has never thought of making any of them hostages. It is the U.S. imperialists putting words into his mouth."
Meanwhile, news reports here said a high-level Cuban military delegation has arrived in Uganda to study Amin's military needs. The reports, quoting "reliable sources" in Kampala, Uganda's capital, said up to 1,000 Cubans already were in Uganda following the signing earlier this month of a military agreement between the two countries.
Uganda Radio today reiterated assurances it broadcast last night that no harm would come to the Americans. Amin yesterday ordered all of the Americans living in Uganda - an estimated 240, most of them missionaries - to meet with him MOnday to give an account if their activities since the United States closed its embassy in Kampala four years ago.
Broadcasts last night and today said Amin wants to "thank all Americans for the excellent work they have been doing in Uganda" and they said special honors were being considered for some.
Although no official U.S. statements had returned to the Americans as hostages, there have been reports in some Western newspapers that the United States had let it be known through diplomatic channels that it would not accept the treatment of American citizens as hostages.
After Amin ordered his forces not to allow any Americans to leave Uganda, a spokesman for President Carter said the United States would do "whatever is necessary" to save American lives.
A four-ship U.S. Navy task force led by the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Enterprise and carrying 200 Marines cruised off East Africa today, but U.S. officials played down the possibility of a military mission to rescue the Americans.
Uganda is 700 miles inland from the Indian Ocean and military officials said the Enterprise does not have enough helicopters to mount a rescue airlift.
An American nun, Sister Jude Marie Garbacio, a nurse at a hospital in Fort Portal, Uganda, told the Hartford, Conn., Courant by telephone that she and other Americans were not "overly fearful" and that she "certainly" planned to attend Monday's meeting with Amin. She said she detected no hostility and that the atmosphere was "fine at the moment."
Most of the Americans in Uganda live in remote districts, working as missionary teachers, doctors and nurses, Washington Post special correspondent Roger Mann reported. With transportation difficult and gasoline often unavailable, the trip to Kampala is likely to pose a hardship for many of them.
One long-time East African resident said that the few Americans remaining "are the hard-core, long-term Uganda lovers, tied to their work or married into Ugandan families. Most have been there for years, speak the local languages and consider their roots to be in Uganda."
Observers in Nairobi feel, Mann reported that the more conciliatory tone of Amin's reported remarks today may indicate that he is backing away from a confrontation with the [TEXT OMITTED FROM SOURCE]
The Cuban military delegation, according to the reports here, went to Kampala to discuss the possibility od supplying Amin with military hardware and personnel. According to the account, Amin and Cuban Gen. Francisco Cabrera signed a military pact two weeks ago.
Cuba already has a large military force in Africa, primarily in Angola, where Fidel Castro's government sent troops to intervene in the Angolan civil war.
Meanwhile, a Uganda refugee said here that hundreds of Lango tribesmen suspected of plotting against Amin were strangled and clubbed to death Feb. 18 at Kampala's military police headquarters.
Geoffrey Mugabi, who escaped this week to Kenya, said, according to the Nairobi Daily Nation, that he and other prisoners spent several hours loading the bodies into trucks.
He said those killed had been arrested because they had once supported former President Milton Obote, the man Amin overthrew in January 1971, Mugabi said. Amin has accused Obote, who now lives in Dares Salaam, Tanzania, of directing attempts to oust him.