United States Urges Avoidance of Any Assault on Territorial Integrity of Lebanon

The United States Information Agency, in a broadcast to the Middle East yesterday, said the U.S. was “very concerned” about incidents on the Israeli-Lebanon border and urged that any assault on Lebanon’s territorial integrity be avoided.

The broadcast followed a weekend address here by Joseph J. Sisco, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, before the Middle East Institute. In his remarks, Mr. Sisco stressed that the U.S. took a strong position against any “aggression” that might be waged against Lebanon. He also said that the U.S. was convinced that a common basis of understanding between the U.S. the Soviet Union, Britain and France was really “a basic precondition” for peace in the Middle East.

The USIA broadcast said that the U.S. was seriously concerned over recent incidents of violence on the Lebanese border and “attaches great importance to the national independence and territorial integrity” of Lebanon. It said, “We would view with greatest concern any threat to that integrity from any source.” The broadcast obviously reflected the position voiced by Mr. Sisco.

A statement issued yesterday by the U.S. Embassy in Beirut also said that the U.S. would view with “greatest concern” any threat to the territorial integrity or independence of Lebanon. The statement denied that the U.S. was acting as “Israel’s lawyer” in Mideast talks with the Soviet Union. It said that American participation in the Big Power talks was based on the “considered judgment” that if left to themselves, Israel and the Arab states could not achieve peace.

(Lebanon’s Foreign Minister, Youssef Salem, said in Beirut that his Government was satisfied with the statement, adding that “we would have wished the statement to cover all Arab states, with which we have full solidarity.”)

(In Jerusalem, diplomatic circles said that Israel has often been told by Washington of active American interest in preserving Lebanon’s territorial integrity and the present regime.)

(Israeli sources in Washington could not explain the meaning or the timing of the U.S. statements but thought that they were not necessarily directed at Israel but rather possibly at guerrillas and Arab regimes that have caused Lebanon trouble. There has not been trouble on the Israel-Lebanon border in recent days except for a brief raid recently to route a nest of guerrillas. The border has been the scene of tensions in recent months because of El Fatah attacks from Mount Hermon, in Lebanon, against Israel and Israeli reprisals.)

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