WASHINGTON (Feb. 22)
President Reagan today pledged the United States will guarantee the security of northern Israel once the Israeli army withdraws from Lebanon.
“This Administration is prepared to take all necessary measures to guarantee the security of Israel’s northern borders in the aftermath of the complete withdrawal of the Israel army,” Reagan said in a foreign policy speech to the annual conference of the American Legion at the Capitol Hilton Hotel. He gave no details on what the guarantees would involve.
But White House deputy spokesman Larry Speakes said this was not a new offer but a restatement of the President’s policy since the negotiations in Lebanon began. When asked whether this would mean U.S. marines would be stationed on the Lebanese-Israel border, Speakes restated the Administration’s position that any enlargement of the marine mission would only come in consultation with other members of the multinational force in Beirut, (Related story, P. 3.)
APPEALS TO ARABS TO NEGOTIATE
In his speech, which only devoted three paragraphs to the Middle East. Reagan reiterated his commitment to his September I peace initiative and repeated his appeal to the Arab states to negotiate with Israel.
“Today, I repeat my call to the Arab world to accept the reality of Israel and the reality that peace and justice are to be gained only through direct negotiations,” the President said. “King Hussein should be supported in his effort to bring together a joint Jordanian-Palestinian team to negotiate the future of the West Bank, Gaza and Jerusalem.”
Reagan stressed that “a secure and lasting peace for Israel and its Arab neighbors, including a resolution of the Palestinian problem that satisfies that people’s legitimate rights, is a fundamental objective of our foreign policy.” He said his peace initiative was “designed to accelerate and broaden the negotiating process begun at Camp David. That process fulfilled the principle of exchanging occupied territory for peace between Israel and Egypt.”
On Lebanon. Reagan urged “Syria, the PLO and Israel to withdraw their forces from Lebanon in the shortest possible time” so that “country can once again be an independent sovereign state.” He stressed that the “continued occupation of Lebanon by these forces can only serve the interests of those who wish to undermine the cause of peace.”
Reagan added that “true peace can only evolve through freely-negotiated agreements, not solutions imposed by force.” While there was no explanation for this last point, it seemed to be aimed at Israel’s effort to achieve a normalization of relations with Lebanon.