VERSAILLES (Jun. 6)
Leaders of the worlds seven largest industrial nations meeting here, appealed to Israel and the Palestinians today “to cease firing simultaneously and end all military activities in Lebanon as well as across the Israeli-Lebanese border”.
The seven, who include Presidents Reagan and Francois Mitterrand, and the Prime Ministers of Britain, Canada, Italy and Japan as well as the West German Chancellor and representatives of the European Economic Community (EEC), warned that a continuation of the fighting “could have disastrous consequences for the whole area.”
Officials of several delegations said the seven regarded the news of the fighting in Lebanon with “serious concern,” fearing that a major Middle East conflict could break out unless a cease-fire was rapidly achieved.
Reagan took time away from the formal conference — at which the economic situation of the West was being reviewed — to deal with the crisis. He was kept throughout the day informed of the fighting and also conferred with his special envoy to the Middle East, Ambassador Philip Habib who flew to Versailles from London.
REAGAN SENDS APPEAL TO BEGIN
Reagan also dispatched a personal appeal to Israeli Premier Menachem Begin urging a halt to military action in Lebanon. European officials said that both Mitterrand and West German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt urged him to personally intervene to try and stop the fighting before it spreads.
Presidential White House Spokesman Larry Speakes said Washington had also appealed to the Arab states to use their influence with the Palestinians so that the cease-fire concluded last summer could be renewed.
American sources said Habib, who is due to leave for Beirut late tonight or early tomorrow, will try to lay the ground for a new cease-fire agreement. According to unofficial sources, the American envoy will urge the Palestinians and the Lebanese leftist forces to withdraw to a new line to the north which would be out of range of Israeli artillery and beyond the range of their own artillery to pound Israeli settlements in Galilee.
Western officials said Egyptian diplomats, reportedly acting on the personal instructions of President Hasni Mubarak, had been in contact with the seven Western leaders, urging them to use their influence to stop the fighting. In Cairo, an official spokesman confirmed that Egypt was urging the United States to try and obtain a cease-fire. Mubarak himself told newsmen) that the fighting “is certainly not helping the (Mideast) situation.” Mubarak condemned “the use of force against the Palestinians and the other party.” He did not mention Israel.
The seven leaders were also informed of a Tass statement, issued earlier today, which accused Israel of wanting “to exterminate the Arabs.” The official Soviet news agency statement was considered unusually harsh. Western diplomats, except members of the U.S. delegation, expressed the fear that the Soviets would increasingly back Damascus should Syrian troops become involved in the fighting.
According to French reports, two Syrian brigades have started moving from their positions in the Northeast towards the fighting area. The reports also said that Syrian air forces in Lebanon and Syria itself have been put on “red” alert and civil traffic has been stopped at most Syrian airfields.
UN URGES CEASE-FIRE
The United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution last night calling for a cease-fire in Lebanon and across the Israeli-Lebanese border as of 6 a.m. local time today which was midnight last night in New York. The fighting continued however and the Security Council convened again today for urgent consultations.
The appeal by the seven in Versailles reads as follows: “We are shocked by the news from Lebanon and the Lebanese-Israeli border area. We are moved by the loss of human life, the sufferings and the destruction. We think that this new cycle of violence, if it were to continue, could have disastrous consequences for the whole area. We have taken note of the unanimous adoption by the United Nations Security Council of a resolution expressing grave concern at the violation of the territorial integrity, independence and sovereignty of Lebanon and call on all parties to the conflict to cease immediately and simultaneously all military activities in Lebanon and across the Israeli-Lebanese border.
“Each of the governments (present at the Versailles summit meeting) will use all the means at its disposal to achieve this objective.” Mitterrand who is chairing the conference, told the press that the declaration was unanimously adopted by the seven.