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U.S. Concerned over Escalation of Violence in Lebanon

The State Department said today it was “concerned at the escalation of violence” in Lebanon over the weekend.

Department deputy spokesman Alan Romburg said the violence in the area would have “a negative impact on diplomatic efforts” in Lebanon. But at the same time, he stressed that it would not damage the efforts by special envoy Philip Habib, now in Saudi Arabia, to ease tension over the crisis in Lebanon.

Romburg said that the violence over the weekend also would not have any impact on the U.S. decision whether to lift the suspension of delivery of four F-16s to Israel imposed after Israel destroyed Iraq’s nuclear plant June 7.

He reiterated that a decision will be made by Friday on the Reagan Administration’s review whether Israel violated an arms agreement with the United States by using American-made weapons to attack the Iraqi plant. Friday is the day when six more F-16s are scheduled to be shipped to Israel.

But Romburg would not give any details of the discussions State Department Counsellor Robert McFarlane is conducting with Israeli officials in Jerusalem. McFarlane is believed to be seeking restrictions on the future use by Israel of American-made weapons.

On the violence over the weekend, Romburg noted that last Friday, Israeli planes attacked “targets” in south Lebanon, on Saturday rockets fired from South Lebanon hit Israeli settlements and yesterday Israel struck south of Beirut. He refused to be more specific on the incidents.

But he said there were casualties on both sides and noted that “civilian casualties are almost inevitably a consequence, on both sides,” of such incidents. “As we have said for years, violence begets violence,” Romburg declared. “We believe further violence resolves nothing.”

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