BOSTON (Dec. 1)
Rafic Jouejati, the Syrian Ambassador to the U.S., denied here any Syrian involvement in the October 23 attack on U.S. marines in Lebanon. “We are not responsible for the bombing,” he said at a press conference prior to addressing the World Affairs Council several days ago. He spoke in reply to a question about Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger’s charge that Syria was responsible for the attack.
Jouejati said he had not heard about Weinberger’s remarks but called the accusation “very, very grave.” He emphasized that “Syria has been subject to the same kind of terrorism in 1979, 1980 and 1981” and therefore his country “cannot mount such an attack.”
POSITION ON FIGHTING IN TRIPOLI
Jouejati also discussed his country’s position on the current fighting between Palestine Liberation Organization factions in Tripoli, Lebanon. “From the beginning of this difference, this faction of the PLO had grievances with the decision-making” in the organization. They also felt there was “negligence during the Israeli invasion of Lebanon. Syria did her best to prevail upon (the PLO) to solve their problems,” Jouejati said.
“We did our best to encourage the factions to have a dialogue in the Palestinian Council which is democratic. (PLO chairman Yasir) Arafat didn’t want it,” the envoy said.
He added that it is his own view that Arafat “has lost some of his credibility, perhaps. If he chooses to stay (in Tripoli) the end will be tragic. If he leaves, the Palestinian Council will elect a new leader.”
Jouejati said that Syria would withdraw its troops from Lebanon only “when the sovereignty of Lebanon is assured, when the Israelis withdraw, when the national government is reconstituted.”
He noted that his country wants a “comprehensive solution in the Middle East,” one that would include a resolution of the “Palestinian problem” and the “withdrawal from territories occupied after the 1967 war.” When asked if the Soviet Union would have to be a participant, he replied that it must be remembered that “the Soviet Union is a neighbor to this region.”
He said that according to United Nations Security Council Resolution 338 “which America professes to observe,” peace would have to be worked out “under the proper auspices.’ If the superpowers are competing in the region”, they will have to be part of a settlement “so that the peace will not be contested” by one or the other, Jouejati said. In addition to the superpowers and a neutral country, the settlement would have to include “all involved parties” in the area, he added.