PARIS (Jun. 15)
President Francois Mitterrand sent a special representative to Lebanon today to try to obtain a general and immediate cease-fire, He renewed his appeal to Israel “to stop without any delay the bombardments and the fighting” in Beirut. Mitterrand will meet this evening with Israeli Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir who conferred this morning with the French Foreign Minister, Claude Cheysson.
Mitterrand appealed to Israel last night to halt its shelling on Beirut and warned that “a fight in the center of the city would cause even more human suffering and casualties.” The President said that he was sending Francis Gutmann, the head of the French Foreign Ministry, to Lebanon to meet President Elias Sarkis and other Lebanese leaders.
French sources say Mitterrand seems to be personally affected by reports of heavy civilian casualties in Lebanon. He asked to see Shamir last night after having previously turned down Israeli requests for an audience. Diplomatic sources say Mitterrand refused originally to see him to avoid Arab charges of supporting Israeli policies in Lebanon. He has apparently changed his mind in order to personally renew his plea for an immediate cease-fire.
Cheysson, who conferred for nearly an hour with Shamir, also called on Israel to refrain from any further shootings or shellings in Beirut. The Israeli Minister stressed that Israel had unilaterally imposed a cease-fire but had been forced to respond to Palestinian provocations.
SHAMIR DEFENDS ISRAELI ACTIONS
Shamir also referred to Cheysson’s recent declaration that Israel’s policy is “suicidal.” The Israeli Minister said “what would have been suicidal on our part would have been to give in to foreign friends and accept the creation of a Palestinian state. What happened in Lebanon would have happened in Israel as well,” he said.
Shamir reiterated Israel’s position that it has no territorial aspiration in Lebanon and expressed the hope that a multinational force “in which France could play a role” would be set up to ensure the pacification of southern Lebanon. He said all Israel wants is to see a stable government assume power in the war-torn country.
Israeli sources said Cheysson did not raise the fate of Palestine Liberation Organization chief Yasir Arafat or that of the other Palestinians now said to be trapped in Beirut. A senior Israeli source said: “This subject was simply not discussed nor raised by any of the participants at the meeting.”
Sharmir met for lunch with French Minister of State Gaston Defferre, an old friend of Israel. Defferre replaced Cheysson who, immediately after his working session with Shamir, left for Riyadh to represent Mitterrand at the funeral ceremonies held for King Khaled of Saudi Arabia who died Sunday. Shamir will be the guest of honor at a banquet tonight given by Senate President Alain Poher. He will return to Israel Thursday.