BAGHDAD, IRAQ, NOV. 2 -- Iraq permitted interviews today with several American, British and Japanese hostages, who denied reports that they were being mistreated.

The Iraqi Information Ministry took a group of Baghdad-based reporters to different strategic sites in an effort to discount recent reports about the treatment foreign hostages have received.

"The food is decent. I eat well and I'm treated well," said Charles Keegan, 56, an American investment strategist who worked three years for the Kuwaiti Investment Co. Keegan's hometown was not available.

"I love freedom. When I get out of this and go home, I'll go to the beaches and have a nice swim," said a man who identified himself as Clem J. Hall, an educator from Takoma Park, Md.

Hall said he had been in Kuwait until Sept. 19 and was moved to a Baghdad hotel before he and others were taken to vital economic and military installations in Iraq. Keegan said he also had been arrested Sept. 19 and had since been kept against his will.

Hall, Keegan and eight other foreigners at a site about 60 miles north of Baghdad said they received adequate food and denied any mistreatment by their unarmed guards. Officials insisted that the exact location or the name of the site not be mentioned.

After Iraq's Aug. 2 invasion of Kuwait prompted a U.S.-dominated military buildup in Saudi Arabia, Iraqi officials responded by refusing to allow Westerners to leave the country. They later allowed women and children to leave, but took some 600 Western and Japanese men to strategic sites as "guests" to try to prevent an attack on Iraq.

In recent days, there has been an escalation of claims in the West, bolstered by reports from some of the 262 French hostages freed this week, that the foreigners were being mistreated. Iraqi officials have denied the claims and said that all the foreigners have been given adequate food and medical treatment.

All 10 foreigners interviewed said their treatment had been good. But they disputed the wisdom of Iraq holding them to deter war, saying that neither President Bush nor British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher would be deterred from fighting a war with Iraq even though hundreds of their citizens were held at strategic sites in Iraq.

"If {Thatcher} wants to bomb, she will bomb, whether we are here or not," said Frank Graham, 49, a Briton who worked as an engineer for the Kuwaiti Electricity and Water Ministry.

The Japanese hostages said they receive food and medical supplies from their embassy in Baghdad and expressed hope that former Japanese prime minister Yasuhiro Nakasone might be able to gain the release of some of them when he visits Baghdad over the weekend.