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KOHL AIDE SAYS 2 HOSTAGES IN LEBANON TO GO FREE SOON

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The two German hostages held in Lebanon are expected to be released soon, the chief spokesman for Chancellor Helmut Kohl said Friday.

However, spokesman Dieter Vogel did not confirm a report in the mass-circulation Bild newspaper that Heinrich Struebig and Thomas Kemptner would return to Germany on Monday. Vogel said Germany promised nothing in exchange for the hostages.Struebig, 51, and Kemptner, 30, who were abducted in May 1989, are the last Western hostages in Lebanon.

Vogel, who is attending the Earth Summit in Brazil, said that a high-ranking German official, State Secretary Bernd Schmidbauer, would fly to Iran this weekend as part of the release efforts.

"Schmidbauer has negotiated and reached a basic agreement that the hostages will soon be freed," Vogel told The Associated Press in Rio de Janeiro.