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Jerusalem! Jerusalem?

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The State Department’s chief spokesman, Hodding Carter, surprised correspondents at his daily briefing today. He said, and then repeated, that the government of Israel is in Jerusalem. The U.S. does not recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and normally refers to “the government of Israel” without saying where it is. The U.S. Embassy is in Tel Aviv.

Today, carter said that the U.S. has “made its own concern regarding southern Lebanon very clear repeatedly to the government of Beirut and in Jerusalem.” An amazed correspondent asked, “Jerusalem?” Carter replied, “That’s where the government is. That’s where it happens to be.” He laughingly remarked that two years ago he would have been questioned for 20 minutes about his expression. There was no indication that Carter’s reference to Jerusalem was anything but a slip of the tongue and not a hint of a policy change.

Carter reaffirmed the U.S. position that the deployment of Lebanese troops, believed to be headed by Syrian officers in Lebanese uniforms, south of the Litani River is “a matter of great importance for the Ultimate well-being and security” of Lebanon.

“Anything that hinders that should be stopped he said. He said that no U.S. official has contacted Major Sood Haddad who has spoken of a “free Lebanon” in that area. “We talk to anybody who has influence on events,” Carter added, however. He noted “various people have influence on the various forces in play.”

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