GENEVA (Nov. 2)
The conference aimed at national reconciliation in Lebanon produced a draft agreement today which defines Lebanon as “a sovereign state” which “belongs to the Arab world” and “is a founding and active member of the Arab League.”
It was not immediately clear whether all of the parties to the Lebanese conflict were in agreement on the text or whether it implies renunciation of the withdrawal and security agreement signed by Lebanon and Israel last May 17.
The draft text reads: “Lebanon is a sovereign state, independent and united in its land, its people and its institutions inside borders defined by the Lebanese Constitution and internationally recognized. It belongs to the Arab world, it is a founding and active member of the Arab League. It is bound by all those treaties and the State will apply these principles in all domains, without exception.”
Sources close to President Amin Gemayel said the draft agreement changes nothing with respect to the accord with Israel and suggested that it was composed as an incentive to Druze leader Walid Jumblatt not to walk out of the conference. But Nabith Berri, a leader of the Shiite Moslem delegation, insisted that the agreement with Israel is now dead.
DRAFT AGREEMENT SUBJECT TO DEBATE
That agreement is expected to come up for debate, possibly the next item on the conference agenda. The conference opened formally on Monday without announcing an agenda. Two closed meetings were held yesterday but no official statements were made and there was no briefing for the media.
The conference press spokesman told reporters, “We have been fighting for 15 years, please give us some more time to set up something to tell you.” The conference is expected to last more than a week. All sides seem to be aware that if it fails, bloody warfare will break out anew in Lebanon. As former Prime Minister Saeb Salem said, there will be a united Lebanon or no Lebanon.
The most important event yesterday was President Gemayel’s meeting with the Syrian Foreign Minister Abdel Halim Khaddam, who is at the conference as an observer. Khaddam reportedly insisted that Gemayel cancel the May 17 agreement with Israel. The U.S. observer, special envoy Richard Fairbanks, lunched yesterday with Jumblatt. According to rumors, there will be a meeting between the Americans and Syrians.