WASHINGTON (Mar. 13)
Israeli Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir said after a 3 1/2 hour meeting with Secretary of State George Shultz today that he hoped progress has been made toward coordinating U.S. and Israeli views on Lebanon.
But Shamir indicated that Israel believes Lebanon will not be able to maintain security in the country by itself for months to come and stressed that any solution to safeguard security on Israel’s northern border requires “close cooperation between Israel and Lebanon.” He refused to go into any details, however, and would not confirm reports that Israel is now agreeable to dropping its demand for military surveillance outposts in south Lebanon manned by its own troops.
The Israeli minister said that at his first meeting with Shultz he presented “all our views and proposals” and that the discussions will continue tomorrow. He said he didn’t know if he would be meeting with President Reagan nor could he say if he would be staying in Washington beyond his present plans which call for him to leave tomorrow night.
Before meeting with Shamir again tomorrow, Shultz is scheduled to have a second meeting with the Lebanese Foreign Minister, Elie Salem. Shultz met with Salem yesterday, Shamir said today he was not upset that Salem had said he does not plan to meet with him while they are both in Washington. Shamir noted that there have been a good many meetings between Israel and Lebanon on all levels.
He also denied that he had asked to come to Washington because of dissatisfaction with U.S. special Ambassador Philip Habib. He said the reason he asked for the meeting with Shultz was that after 10 weeks of negotiations on Lebanon he thought it was time to make a “special effort to coordinate our positions with the positions of the U.S.”
Shamir said there was a “large degree of identity” of goals in Lebanon by the U.S. and Israel. He said Israel, as is the U.S., is “very interested to leave Lebanon… as soon as possible,” that both were interested to restore Lebanon’s sovereignty and independence and to prevent terrorist activity in Lebanon against Israel and to ensure “quiet and security on the border” between Israel and Lebanon. He said the question to be answered is the “ways and means” of achieving these goals.
Salem met with Shultz for 1 1/2 hours yesterday. He said afterwards that there is “an opportunity for peace in the Middle East, an opportunity for peace in Lebanon. And if we succeed in having peace in Lebanon, I think that peace in the Middle East is possible in the not too distant future.”
The Lebanese diplomat also said the “people in the Middle East are tired of war. They are ready for a civilized existence, and there is a leadership in the Arab world that is now ready and determined to secure peace.”