LONDON (Oct. 28)
The commander in chief of Lebanon’s armed forces arrived in Cairo tonight for truce talks with Arab guerrilla chiefs. The embattled regime of President Charles Helou appeared ready to make far-reaching concessions to the Palestinian guerrillas but the guerrillas have rejected in advance Beirut’s overtures for “cooperation.”
Maj. Gen. Emile Bustani flew to Cairo as the Lebanese capital was rocked by fierce fighting. Guerrilla units staged a 20-minute attack on a Beirut police station but were thrown back by police after hurling four sticks of dynamite at the building. No casualties were reported.
New fighting broke out between Lebanese Army troops and Arab guerrillas in the south near the Israel border. A Lebanese Army crackdown on the guerrillas last week, which grew out of a fear of Israeli reprisals for attacks on its territories, led to the near civil war.
The latter were said to be occupying a substantial area of southern Lebanon, including villages, towns and Arab refugee camps. Guerrillas were said to hold half of the port city of Tripoli, north of Beirut.
Gen. Bustani went to Cairo reportedly with an offer to permit the guerrillas to continue their operations against Israel from southern Lebanon provided that they “coordinated” their moves with the Government in Beirut. The offer was said to have been worked out at a meeting in Beirut today between President Helou, former Premier Rashid Karami and Gen. Bustani. But it was denounced in advance by the guerrillas, A commando radio broadcast said yesterday, “the conspirators have failed in sabotaging our revolution and so they call now for ‘coordination.’ But the Palestinian revolution refuses to be contained or placed under guardianship.” With Gen. Bustani were Dr. Najib Sadaka, director general of the Lebanon Foreign Office, and two military officers. They planned to meet with Egyptian Defense Minister Mohammed Fawzi and Yassir Arafat, head of the El Fatah.
Observers here said the guerrillas were demanding freedom to establish military positions in south Lebanon from which raids could be mounted into Israel and emplacements in east Lebanon to guard their supply lines from Syria. The Beirut Government may insist on a situation like the one prevailing between King Hussein of Jordan and guerrillas operating from his territory. According to observers the guerrillas would have to cooperate with the Lebanese Army, designate their operational areas and consult with the Lebanese Army command on major operations against Israel. The guerrillas would be asked to accept nominal Lebanese control and to observe Lebanese law.