WASHINGTON (Jul. 19)
The Reagan Administration, which for weeks has been denying reports that either Israeli Premier Menachem Begin or President Amin Gemayel of Lebanon would cancel their trips to Washington, appeared surprised by Begin’s decision to cancel, announced today. No one could give any reason for Begin’s decision except the unexplained “personal reasons” given by Begin himself.
One issue that was of immediate concern is Israel’s plan to redeploy its forces in Lebanon which has been hanging fire pending Begin’s visit to Washington. State Department spokesman John Hughes stressed today that discussions on this issue have been going on and would continue without Begin having to come to Washington. He pointed out that there are “good channels” both in Washington and Jerusalem for communications between Israel and the U.S.
NO EFFECT ON GEMAYEL VISIT
Hughes said Begin’s cancellation of his trip would have no effect on the Gemayel visit here. Anything that is accomplished could be communicated to the Israelis, he said.
Gemayel, who arrives here today, will meet with Senate and House members tomorrow and with Secretary of State George Shultz at the State Department and Vice President George Bush at the White House on Thursday. He meets with Reagan at the White House Friday after first going to the Pentagon for a meeting with Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger.
Gemayel also plans to meet with the Emir of Bahrain, Amin Sheikh Isa bin Sulman Al-Khalisa, at the Bahrain Embassy here. An Administration official said that Lebanon was discussed at the meeting between the Emir and Reagan and that the Emir had emphasized the need for the withdrawal of all foreign forces from Lebanon, the Syrians and Palestine Liberation Organization as well as Israeli. But, the official noted, “no magic solutions” were offered.