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Lebanon’s F.m. Says Israel’s Withdrawal from Lebanon Will Give Syria Incentive to Withdraw

Lebanese Foreign Minister Elie Salem said today that a complete Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon may provide the Syrian government with a needed incentive for it to withdraw its troops from Lebanon and end what the Lebanese official termed as Syria’s “illegal” occupation of his country.

“We believe that the withdrawal of the Israeli forces would be a major inducement for the Syrian forces to withdraw from Lebanon,” Salem said in an interview via satellite from Bern, Switzerland on the ABC-TV “This Week with David Brinkley” program.

Salem is in Switzerland for the scheduled start tomorrow of Lebanon’s national reconciliation conference. President Amin Gemayel arrived in Geneva yesterday as did representatives of Lebanon’s various warring factions.

Salem suggested that progress at the talks would depend on the actions by the Lebanese representatives as well as the “forces behind” them. He said he hoped that the Lebanese representatives will be able to speak freely and will work “toward the interests of Lebanon.”

The Lebanese official, speaking of the fournation multinational force, said it represented a “major commitment” to “salvage the Lebanese democracy.”