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U.S. Welcomes Israel’s Decision on Issue of Venue for Lebanon Talks

The U.S. today welcomed the Israeli Cabinet’s decision yesterday to drop its demand that negotiations with Lebanon be held alternately in Jerusalem and Beirut.

“We welcome this development as a positive step forward. We now urge direct talks between the parties and that the withdrawal of all foreign forces from Lebanon begin and end as soon as possible,” State Department deputy spokesman Alan Romberg declared.

Romberg said that U.S. special envoy Philip Habib is on his way back to Washington from the Middle East to report to President Reagan before the President meets with King Hussein of Jordan tomorrow. Habib will not be here for Hussein’s meeting with Secretary of State George Shultz today.

Romberg said the U.S. “would welcome the addition of British troops to the multinational force” now in Beirut. “We would expect any increase to take place within the context of the withdrawal of all foreign forces from Lebanon,” he said. The MNF presently consists of about 4,000 troops, including units from France and Italy and 1,200 U.S. marines. The government of Britain announced today that it would send an armored reconnaissance unit of 80 men to join the MNF.