WASHINGTON (Sep. 1)
Special Presidential envoy Philip Habib will return to Washington next week to receive the Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award, from President Reagan at the White House.
Habib, who helped negotiate the removal of the Palestine Liberation Organization terrorists from west Beirut, will also discuss the situation in Lebanon with the President and Secretary of State George Shultz.
At the State Department today, deputy spokesman Alan Romberg said it was not known whether Habib, who was brought out of retirement by Reagan to deal with the situation in Lebanon, would return to the Middle East. White House deputy spokesman Larry Speakes said yesterday that Habib would be at the President’s “disposal.”
Meanwhile, Romberg announced that with the departure of nearly 700 PLO terrorists by ship to Tortus, Syria, today, the evacuation of the terrorists, which began August 21, has ended.
He said that during this 12-day period, approximately 8,300 PLO members left Beirut. This included 3,850 who went to Syria, 1,100 to South Yemen 1,000 to Tunisia, 850 to North Yemen, 600 to Algeria, 500 to the Sedan, 260 to Jordan and 130 to Iraq.
The PLO terrorists were transported aboard eight Greek and Cypriot merchant ships which made a total of 15 trips from Beirut, Romberg said. In addition to the 8,300 listed, the International Red Cross took approximately 175 sick and wounded terrorists to Cyprus and Greece aboard the hospital ship Flora. Also, 2,600 members of the Palestine Liberation Army and 3,600 Syrian troops left Beirut for Syria by land.