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U.S. Confirms Sending Message of Thanks to ‘palestinians’ for Help in Beirut Evacuation

The State Department confirmed today that a message of thanks was sent by the U.S., through “third parties.” to the “Palestinian leadership” in Lebanon for its role in the evacuation of Americans from that country and in moving the remains of the American Ambassador, Francis B. Meloy and the Economic Counselor Robert O. Waring who were murdered in Beirut last week.

The Department issued a brief statement today in response to a question raised yesterday after the Palestinian news agency Wafa reported from Beirut that Farouk Khaddoumi had received a message of thanks from Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger. Khaddoumi is the “foreign minister” of the Palestine Liberation Organization. According to Wafa, the message said that Kissinger “wishes to inform the Palestinian leadership of his appreciation of the great and constructive role undertaken by the Palestinians.”

The State Department’s statement said: “There has been no written communication to the PLO. However, on instructions of the Secretary, the American Embassy in Beirut has conveyed orally, through third parties, to the Palestinian leadership, his appreciation for the assistance provided during the movement of the remains of Ambassador Meloy and Mr. Waring and the evacuation from West Beirut.”

FIRST COMMUNICATION WITH PLO

According to sources here, the message was the first communication by the U.S. government to the PLO, directly or indirectly. American policy has been to avoid any official contact with the PLO and according to the State Department that policy remains unchanged.

Meanwhile, Kissinger, who is presently visiting West Germany, summoned the U.S. Ambassadors to Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Syria there for a meeting on the situation in Lebanon. The White House announced today the interim appointment of Ambassador Talcott Seelye as special representative to Lebanon. The State Department said that Seelye participated in the meeting with Kissinger in Bonn.

According to Wafa, Khaddoumi responded to Kissinger’s message as follows: “In spite of our basic and principal differences with the U.S. government, which takes a stand hostile to Palestinian and Arab national aspirations, the leadership of the Palestinian revolution is well aware of its international and local responsibilities and is very much concerned to deal with all on the bases of justice and the legitimate objectives for which the Palestinian revolution was launched.”

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