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IRAN LEADER WANTS U.S. TO HELP FREE MOSLEMS

President Hashemi Rafsanjani said Wednesday that Washington must pressure Israel and Kuwait to free Moslem prisoners if it wants help in gaining the release of the 16 Westerners held by kidnappers in Lebanon.

"The irresponsible, arrogant attitude of the United States has created further difficulties" in resolving the hostage crisis, Rafsanjani told a news conference for 200 foreign and local journalists.Iran's leaders and Shiite leaders in Lebanon have often demanded that the United States urge Israel to release 350 Moslem prisoners held in Israel and in Israel's self-declared security zone in southern Lebanon.

However, it was the first time in some months that an Iranian leader referred to 15 Shiite Moslems jailed in Kuwait in 1984 for car bombings in that country that killed five people and wounded 86.

Two American educators, Robert Polhill and Frank Reed, were released by their pro-Iranian kidnappers at Tehran's bidding in April, and Iran said Washington should make a gesture in return.