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U.S. Urges Restraint on Israeli-lebanese Border

The State Department said today that it was urging “all concerned” to exercise restraint in order to end the new flare-up of warfare along the Israeli-Lebanese border but pointedly refused to condemn Israel’s air strike against terrorist bases in south-western Lebanon this morning in retaliation for terrorist rocket attacks on Nahariya. Department spokesman John Trattner also said, at today’s press briefing, that the U.S. position “remains only that a permanent solution to security in southern Lebanon lies with restoration of Lebanese authority in the area.”

Asked for an assessment of the rocket attack and the air strike, Trattner said, “We, of course, deplore the loss of life and injury on both sides of the border. Again we urge all concerned to act with restraint in order to restore the cease-fire in southern Lebanon and we are continuing intensive diplomatic action toward this end with the governments concerned. Our position remains only that a permanent solution to security in southern Lebanon lies with restoration of Lebanese authority in the area. We call on all concerned to do all that they can to help the Lebanese government bring this about.”

Pressed to name the governments concerned, Trattner named Lebanon and Israel but said he was “not limiting the list” to those two countries. Asked why the State Department did not mention Syria which has 30,000 troops in Lebanon, Trattner replied that he “assumes that Syria is part of the contact.”

Asked if Israel can be secure if Syria doesn’t act to get the Palestinian terrorists out of southern Lebanon, Trattner said it was “not appropriate for me to say what the various parties should do.” Asked why he did not condemn the Israeli air strike, he responded, “I’m going to say exactly what I said.” He said he would not “characterize” the Israeli move “in one way or another.” Yesterday, Trattner condemned the terrorist rocket attacks on Nahariya that claimed three lives and injured five persons.

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