INTRODUCTION: The climax to the drawn-out drama of the release of the United States hostages from Iran divided concentration and emotions at the inauguration of President Ronald Reagan in Washington on Tuesday (20 January).
GV Capitol Dome in Washington, DC
SV Former President Carter, Mrs. Carter with President and Mrs. Ronald Reagan setting off for inauguration ceremony (2 shots)
GV Motorcade (3 shots)
SV Mr. Reagan and officials walking through Capitol buildings
CU President Reagan talking to newsmen
GV Mr. Carter talking to group of people at airport
GV State aircraft taxiing for take-off
SV & GV Hospital aircraft on tarmac at Algiers airport (2 shots)
GV Officials walking across tarmac
GV Man walking into aircraft
GV & SV Hospital aircraft on tarmac with many people moving in foreground (3 shots)
SPEECH ON FILM (TRANSCRIPT)
BELL: "Washington was waiting, as the president-elect was waiting, for more than an inauguration. The ceremonies went ahead as planned, starting with the meeting of the outgoing and incoming presidents on the steps of the White House this morning. But it seemed overshadowed by events half a world away. President Carter had hoped to be able to announce, even in his final moments in the White House, that the hostages were free. But the Iranians, who've played games with American politics before, denied him even that satisfaction. He was actually in the motorcade on the way to the Capitol when he heard the news of the hostages' release. And even that message turned out to be a few minutes premature. So the crisis that had lately seemed the main business of the Carter presidency, ended in its closing minutes. One problem the less for his successor to deal with."
SEQ. 5: REAGAN: "Well, we heard that all of this morning, the president told me that all of the papers were signed, and the objections, or the hold-up on the part of the bank had been removed. They were at the airport. The planes were at the end of the runway. That was the final word until following the ceremonies, in which we were told that the first plane was airborne at 1233, and then, ten minutes later, we heard (indistinct)"
BELL: "At andrews Air Force Base, there were aircraft moving too. The former president was on his way to Plains, then Wiesbaden, and a State Department aircraft was on its way directly to Wiesbaden, and, at the same time, the families of the hostages were celebrating."
REPORTER: MARTIN BELL
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: INTRODUCTION: The climax to the drawn-out drama of the release of the United States hostages from Iran divided concentration and emotions at the inauguration of President Ronald Reagan in Washington on Tuesday (20 January). It was a bitter-sweet moment for outgoing President Carter who'd been thwarted in his plan to fly to West Germany to greet the hostages in the final hours of his term. But Mr. Carter was airborne for Wiesbaden almost immediately after the ceremony to carry out that task as President Reagan's envoy. Meanwhile, preparations were going ahead in Algiers to receive the hostages, who were to touch down there on their way to West Germany. They'd been flown out of Teheran by the Algerians, who had acted as intermediaries in the deal that brought about the hostages' release. First, Martin Bell of the BBC describes an extraordinary day in the American capital.
At Algiers airport, the long white outline of the United States hospital aircraft in which the hostages were to fly from the Algerian capital to West Germany.
Hours before the Air Algerian plane bringing the hostages from Teheran was due to touch down, the airport was bustling with Algerian and American officials, who'd endured a tense 48 hours keyed up to receive the freed Americans. All the medical supplies and facilities were aboard the aircraft for the weary and drawn hostages, who'd been in captivity for a total of 444 days. It would be taking off as soon as possible after the Algerian government had formally handed over the hostages into the care of the U.S. State Department officials. This was a crucial staging post in a poignant human drama.