WASHINGTON (Jan. 16)
The Reagan Administration maintained today that it “remains hopeful” that a settlement in Lebanon can still be achieved. This view was given by White House spokesman Larry Speakes after Israel Radio reported that President Reagan’s special envoy, Donald Rumsfeld, told Israeli offcials yesterday that after his meeting with Syrian President Hafez Assad last Friday, he believed chances for an agreement had “decreased.” Speakers refused to comment on Rumsfeld’s reported remarks.
Speakes also refused to give any assessment of the situation since Rumsfeld’s meetings in Damascus last week, but rejected the view that the talks with Assad went “very badly.” Assad reportedly is now demanding not only that Lebanon abrogate its May 17, 1983 agreement but that U.S. troops as well as the Israelis leave Lebanon before he will consider withdrawing Syrian forces.
LEBANON MAY CANCEL MAY 17 ACCORD
Meanwhile, Lebanese Premier Shafiq Al-Wazzan was quoted in an independent Beirut newspapers today saying his government would consider cancelling the May 17 accord with Israel “if Israel keeps its arbitrary measures that run counter to the Lebanese rights and if it continues to mistreat the Lebanese in south Lebanon.”
Al-Wazzan added: “I say as a responsible official that we will not ratify this agreement. When I say we will not ratify, I mean that we will not sign this check.” According to Al-Wazzan, the accord had a “negative effect” on Lebanese-Syrian relations. The Lebanese government has not ratified the May 17 accord.