WASHINGTON (Aug. 29)
State Department spokesman Alan Romberg said today that despite the killing of two U.S. marines and the wounding of eight others in the Beirut area, American diplomatic efforts will “continue to be intense.”
A statement he read at a press conference said: “Two U.S. marines were killed and eight wounded when a U.S. marine position was shelled in the Beirut suburbs this morning at 3:49 a.m. Washington time.
“The attack on the marines followed a day and night of sporadic fighting between forces of the Lebanese army and Lebanese Shiite militia groups in south Beirut. There has also been firing from Druze militia positions.
“We are shocked and grieved by the deaths of the marines in Lebanon. They died serving the United States in its efforts to help the Lebanese central government restore order to the greater Beirut area.
“We condemn those who are responsible for the continuing violence which has claimed many victims, including our own marines. Our forces are there at the request of the government of Lebanon and helping to provide security for the Lebanese people. Once more, we call upon all aimed elements to end this senseless violence and unite behind the Lebanese government to restore national harmony.”
The question of how this incident is covered under the War Powers Resolution is “under intensive study at the present moment,” Romberg said. “We are looking at the situation and the War Powers Resolution, and we will take whatever action is called for with respect to the resolution.”
Concerning the killing of the marines, Romberg said that “other elements of the multinational force also come under fire.” However, whether the Americans “were specifically being targeted and by whom is not now known.”
NO CHANGES SEEN IN U.S. MFN CONTINGENT
Romberg said “no changes are being contemplated one way or the other” in the make-up of American contingents to the MFN as a result of today’s killings. He also stated that Robert McFarlane, President Reagan’s special Mideast envoy, returned today to Beirut and “he is continuing actively his efforts, as is Ambassador (Richard) Fairbanks to pursue the mission the President sent them on.” McFarlane had been in Rome, Paris and London discussing the multinational peacekeeping force and ways to achieve a permanent ceasefire in Lebanon.
NO FURTHER COMMENT ON BEGIN
Romberg would not comment on Premier Menachem Begin’s announcement that he planned to resign except to say that the statement made yesterday by White House spokesman Larry Speakes covered the State Department’s views. Speakes said that Begin’s intention to resign was an internal affair of Israel’s government. He also stated that the “close historic ties with Israel” will continue whether or not Begin resigned.