Deputy Secretary of State Warren Christopher flew home to Washington last night after two days of talks with Algerian go-betweens relaying American responses to Iran's conditions for release of the American hostages.
Algerian officials said the U.S. clarifications -- responding to Iranian questions about earlier responses to the Iranian demands -- will be hand-carried to Tehran later this week, probably Thursday. Christopher and his delegation met yesterday with the Algerian foreign minister, Mohammed Benyahia, and other Algerian officials including the two who will make the delivery: Rehda Malik, ambassador to Washington, and Mohammed Seghir Mostefai, Central Bank director.
The Algerian news agency said Malik was flying to Tehran late yesterday.
Iin Tehran, Ayatollah Mohammed Beheshti complained at a news conference that the United States has not explained in detail the legal problems it says would prevent full compliance with the four release conditions set a month ago by the Iranian Majlis, or parliament. Beheshti, who heads the Iranian Supreme Court, added, however, that he has not seen the latest American clarifications handed over to Algeria by Christopher.
The conditions are: return of the late shah's wealth to Iran, unfreezing of Iranian assets in American financial institutions, dropping legal action against Iran in U.S. courts and a pledge of non-interference in Iranian affairs. In its responses, the United States has warned that the U.S. constitutional system prohibits the executive branch from interfering with the courts, limiting U.S. ability to meet the Iranian terms.
In a separate Tehran news conference, President Abol Hassan Bani-Sadr claimed that the Iranian war with Iraq has moved into a second phase in which Iranian forces plan to go on the offensive ans drive the Iraqis out of Iranian land.
"We are certain of victory," he declared.
At the same time, the official Iranian news agency Pars reported that the government has presented the Majlis with to top-priority bill to increase the defense budget by about $270 million. This will cover increased manpower costs brought on by the war, Pars said, particularly the recall of personnel who already had completed their ordinary military service.