WASHINGTON (May. 16)
The situation across the Lebanese- Israeli border continues to be “delicate” but it is not now “more tense” than it has been in recent weeks, according to the State Department. The Department’s deputy spokesman, Alan Romberg, said that despite press reports from Israel, the U.S. believes the cease-fire is still in effect and that all sides accept this view, too. But he called on all the parties involved to exercise restraint.
Romberg’s remarks last Friday followed Israeli Premier Menachem Begin’s statement that the cease-fire, which went into effect last July, was null and void because of continued violations by the Palestine Liberation Organization. President Reagan, in a nationally televised press conference from the White House last Thursday night, said that “the word we get from both sides is that they want to continue” the cease-fire.
Reagan also said that he would have a “better assessment” of the situation after his meeting with Philip Habib, his special envoy to the Lebanese situation. The two men met yesterday but there was no immediate sign that Habib would return to the area. Meanwhile, Romberg noted that Morris Draper, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near East and South Asian Affairs, will leave for the Mideast tomorrow and go to Lebanon.