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Reagan Says His Mideast Peace Initiative Continues to Be a ‘realistic and Workable Approach’

Declaring that the road to peace in the Middle East is “long and hard,” President Reagan told the General Assembly today that he is as committed today to his September 1, 1982 peace initiative as he was on the day he issued it.

“That initiative remains a realistic and workable approach, and I am committed to it as firmly as on the day I announced it,” the President declared. He said that the foundation of this plan remains Security Council Resolution 242.

Stressing the importance of negotiations, Reagan, whose speech lasted 25 minutes and who referred to the Middle East only briefly, said, “The lesson of experience is that negotiations work. The peace treaty between Israel and Egypt brought about the peaceful return of the Sinai, clearly showing that the negotiating process brings results when the parties commit themselves to it.

“The time is bound to come when the same wisdom and courage will be applied, with success, to reach peace beween Israel and all of its Arab neighbors, in a manner that assures security for all in the region, the recognition of Israel, and a solution to the Palestinian problem,” he said.

‘FULL PARTNER IN THE QUEST FOR PEACE’

The President added that the United States has been involved in peace diplomacy for the decade that the Middle East conflict has been in existence. “We consider ourselves a full partner in the quest for peace. The record of the II years since the October War (Yom Kippur War) shows that much can be achieved through negotiation,” he said.

Turning to the situation in Lebanon, Reagan said that “the tragedy” has not ended, recalling that only last week “a despicable act of barbarism by terrorists” against the U.S. Embassy in Beirut took place. The President noted that in 1983 the United States helped Israel and Lebanon reach an agreement that could have led to the full withdrawal of Israeli forces “in the context of the withdrawal of all foreign forces,” from Lebanon.

But, the President pointed out, the agreement was blocked and “the long agony of the Lebanese continues. Thousands of people are still kept from their homes by continued violence, and are refugees in their own country.” The President called on all who are concerned with the well being of Lebanon “to help end this nightmare.”

The President’s address opened the 39th session of the General Assembly’s general debate. His speech, which was mainly devoted to relations between the United States and the Soviet Union was warmly received. Israel was represented by Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir and by members of the Israel UN Mission. Shamir said, in answer to a reporter’s question, that he would not give any assessment of Reagan’s remarks on the Mideast until he has a chance to study the text.

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