PARIS (Oct. 27)
The fate of the May 17 Israel-Lebanon withdrawal and security agreement will be one of the main issues when the parties to the Lebanese conflict convene in Geneva next Monday for talks aimed at national reconciliation, diplomatic sources here said today.
Most of the participants are opposed to the accord which was orchestrated by the United States, signed by Israel and Lebanon but not ratified by the Lebanese government. Sources here said President Amin Gemayel may seek approval of the agreement at Geneva but, more likely, would use the opposition as a pretext for abrogating it in the interests of national reconciliation in Lebanon.
There will be no fixed agenda at the Geneva talks. But another issue likely to be discussed is an amendment to the Lebanese constitution which would give additional weight to the Shiites and Druze who claim they are discriminated against by the Maronite Christian-led government. Walid Jumblatt, the Druze leader, is expected to suggest the reorganization of Lebanon into semi-autonomous cantons, on the Swiss model, where the majority ethnic and religious communities would exercise authority.
WIDE REPRESENTATION OF GROUPS
There will be wide representation of the conflicting groups and interested parties at the Geneva talks. Secretary of State George Shultz was in Paris today for meetings with the foreign ministers of France, Italy and Britain whose troops, along with the U.S. marines comprise the multinational force in Beirut.
Shultz reportedly told them that Richard Fairbanks, U.S. special envoy to the Middle East, would be one of the non-Lebanese participants at Geneva. The other two are expected to be the Syrian Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs and a representative of King Fahd of Saudi Arabia.
Nine Lebanese representatives are expected: President Gemayel, accompanied by his father, Pierre Gemayel, founder of the Phalangist party; former President Camille Chamoun of Lebanon, representing the Christian Lebanese Front; and another former President, Suleiman Franjieh, representing their Christian opponents. Former Lebanese Premier Raymond Edde, who lives in exile in Paris, refused to attend because he is opposed “to all the main forces — the Lebanese Front, Syria and Israel.
Lebanese Moslems will be represented by former Premier Saeb Salem who is close to the Saudis; pro-Syrian Rachid Karame; Nabith Berri and Adel Osseirane, representing the country’s Shiite Moslems; and Druze leader Jumblatt.
Diplomatic sources here believe Israel will also be present in Geneva, though not as a participant in the talks. A veteran Israeli diplomat, Uri Lubrani, “might just happen” to be somewhere in Switzerland at the time, Lebanese sources said.
DETERMINED TO MAINTAIN PEACEKEEPING FORCE
Meanwhile, the four Western allies of the MNF reiterated today their determination to maintain their peacekeeping force in Beirut but agreed as well on the eventual need to “widen the international presence.” French sources said this might lead to the stationing of a UN force in Beirut similar to the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) which is confined to south Lebanon.
Meeting with Shultz was British Foreign Secretary Sir Geoffrey Howe; French Foreign Minister Claude Cheysson; and the Foreign Minister of Italy, Giulio Andreotti. Cheysson, who served as spokesman for the group, stressed that only “political unity in Lebanon and political negotiations will lead to a solution.”