WASHINGTON (Oct. 7)
The State Department does not accept Israel’s view that it will be difficult to get the PLO to leave Lebanon once Israel and Syria agree to withdraw their forces. A department official said today that he believed the PLO forces in northern Lebanon and in the Bekao valley would leave once the Syrian and Israeli troops departed.
This is basically the same view expressed by Israeli Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir in a television interview from New York last Sunday. But Premier Menachem Begin does not support that view and reportedly is seeking guarantees that the PLO will leave Lebanon before Israel begins its withdrawal. Meanwhile, Department spokesman Alan Romberg said he had no comment on a report in the Washington Post today that the Reagan Administration is working on plans to provide a timetable for the phased withdrawal of Israeli, Syrian and PLO forces from Lebanon.
The Post said the proposals will be based on information U.S. special envoy Philip Habib obtained during his recent visits to Middle East capitals. Habib, who reported to Reagan yesterday, briefed State Department officials today.
According to the Post report, the proposals being worked out by the Administration will be discussed with Shamir when he visits Washington October 14 and with Lebanese President Amin Gemayel when he comes here October 19. They may also be discussed with an Arab League delegation due here later this month. Romberg had no information today on that visit.