Washington (Jul. 20)
The State Department rejected any feelings of pessimism about the chances of achieving a cease-fire across the Israeli-Lebanese boarder.
State Department deputy spokesman Alan Romburg said it was “premature” to make any judgement about special U.S. envoy Philip Habib’s efforts until after the Israeli Cabinet meets in special session tomorrow. He refused to make any comment on reports that Israeli Premier Menachem Begin had rejected a cease-fire.
Romburg also refused to comment on any aspect of Habib’s mission. Habib was ordered to Jerusalem last Friday by President Reagan to seek a cease-fire after Israel’s raid on terrorist headquarters in Lebanon. Romburg would not say how Habib would get the Palestinine Liberation Organization to stop firing into northern Israel since, as he reiterated, U.S. policy is not to deal directly with the PLO. But he noted, “For a cease-fire to work, both sides have to stop shooting.”
F-16S DELIVERY NOT LINKED TO MIDEAST VIOLENCE
Romburg reiterated that the U.S. does not link the violence in Lebanon with Reagan’s forthcoming decision whether to resume the shipment of F-16s to Israel. The President was expected to decide last Friday whether to lift the suspension on four F-16s that was imposed after Israel destroyed the Iraqi nuclear plant June 7 as well as give the go ahead on six more F-16s now scheduled to leave New Hampshire for the 18-hour flight to Israel tomorrow.
Romburg said he did not want to go beyond what Secretary of State Alexander Haig said yesterday on ABC-TV’s “Issues and Answers.” On that program, Haig said that the F-16’s and the situation in Lebanon were not linked although they were “broadly interrelated” in the overall U.S. efforts to achieve peace in the area.
Romburg noted that the President, who is in Ottawa for the Western nation’s economic summit, is scheduled to meet with his advisors on the F-16 decision this afternoon. He said if there is an announcement it will come from Ottawa.