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Brown Says Use of Cluster Bombs is Not a Big Issue

Defense Secretary Harold Brown said Israel’s use of the cluster bomb in south Lebanon last month was not a big issue and that the United States is discussing with the Israelis “their reassurances” that its agreements with the U.S. not to use American-made weapons other than to maintain internal security or in the pursuit of legitimate self-defense “will be observed in the future.”

Brown also said yesterday during an interview on CBS-TV’s “Face the Nation” that Israel’s invasion of south Lebanon was clearly in reaction to a terrorist attack. The attack referred to the March 11 raid in which 33 men, women and children were massacred. “The question one has to ask is, was the (Israeli) response proportional?” Brown said.

He stated that the U.S. has told Israel “they must expedite their withdrawal” from south Lebanon. He declined to specify whether he thought Israel was withdrawing its forces too slowly from that area and denied that the U.S. was putting pressure on the Jewish State. Brown said the speed of Israeli troop withdrawal was only one factor in the U.S. judgment of the Israeli action.

“We will not judge Israeli actions solely on this basis, but it is an important factor,” he stated. “The important thing is that they be withdrawn. They are withdrawing, and so long as that goes on at reasonable pace I have hopes that that particular problem can be settled.”

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