WASHINGTON (Jul. 8)
A letter from Soviet President Leonid Brezhnev to President Reagan warning him against sending American troops to Lebanon will not affect Reagan’s offer of a contingent of U.S. Marines to help Palestine Liberation Organization forces evacuate west Beirut, State Department spokesman Dean Fischer said today.
Fischer confirmed that Reagan received Brezhnev’s letter which he said Soviet Ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin gave acting Secretary of State Walter Stoessel at the State Department yesterday. Fischer refused to provide any details of the letter or to say what the U.S. response would be, except that it would not affect the offer of American troops.
Brezhnev’s letter reportedly warned against sending troops into Lebanon and said if the U.S. did so, the USSR would have to build its policy on that fact. Some observers believe Brezhnev’s letter was not aimed at the U.S. but at the PLO and was a message from its chief supplier of arms not to leave west Beirut, even though surrounded by Israeli forces.
HOPEFUL A SOLUTION WILL BE FOUNDS
“All of our actions and policies … are aimed at a peaceful resolution of the situation,” Fischer stressed. He noted that U.S. special envoy Philip Habib is continuing his consultations in Beirut “and we are hopeful a solution will be achieved.” The negotiations include the creation of a multinational force to which the U.S. would contribute a contingent of up to 1,000 men to escort the PLO out of Lebanon, Fischer explained.
The spokesman again stressed that there was no Israeli deadline for reaching an agreement and noted that Premier Menachem Begin was quoted as saying so himself. At the same time, Fischer said, “We feel it is a matter of great urgency to achieve a solution to the problem of west Beirut.”
Fischer also revealed that the Foreign Ministers of Syria and Saudi Arabia are coming to Washington but no date has been set for their visit. He said they are being sent by the Arab League and that the Administration and the ministers are trying to find a “mutually convenient early date” for them to come here. In other matters, Fischer said the U.S. is in daily contact with Israel on the humanitarian
aspects of the situation in Lebanon. He said the U.S. was “pleased” to note that central services such as electricity and water have been restored to west Beirut.
Fischer had no comment on the closing down of Bir Zeit University on the West Bank by the Israeli military authorities today. But he said the ouster of the Mayor of the West Bank town of Jenin by the Israelis this week “was regrettable.” He observed, “The (municipal) elections in 1976 represented the only recent expression of the popular will on the West Bank.” (See separate story P.3.)
Meanwhile, Fischer said that Secretary of State-designate George Shultz was at the State Department and was being briefed on the situation in Lebanon. He said Shultz is preparing for his confirmation hearings before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee which will begin next Tuesday.