WASHINGTON (Oct. 23)
The Reagan Administration marked today the first anniversary of the terrorist bombing of the marine barracks in Beirut in which 241 sevicemen were killed by declaring that it will not allow such events to deter it from seeking peace in the Middle East.
“This anniversary reminds us that our road will not be easy,” State Department spokesman John Hughes declared. “Nevertheless, we will not be diverted from pursuing a just, honorable and lasting peace in the Middle East. We will persevere.”
Calling the attack on the marine barracks and the French contingent of the multinational force last year “vicious and unwarranted,” Hughes said “this anniversary and the recent attack on our Embassy are grim reminders of the obstacles we face in our pursuit of peace in the Middle East. The marines went to Lebanon as instruments of peace and we must honor their sacrifice in that cause. We have pursued this objective because it is what America stands for and because it is in America’s interest.”
Hughes stressed that United States Embassies are on a “high state of a lert” because of continued threats and rumors of attacks against American embassies and diplomats, as well as those of other countries.
SAYS TERRORIST THREATS ARE ‘SNOWBALLING’
He rejected a suggestion that the terrorist threats are related to the United States Presidential election. “These threats sadly have been snowballing, I would say, over the past year, perhaps longer, ” Hughes said. He added there is no plan to close the United States Embassy in Beirut which is continuing to operate from the Ambassador’s residence with the staff at a minimal level.
Meanwhile, Hughes again stressed that while the United States wants to be “helpful” in the effort to bring about the withdrawal of foreign forces from Lebanon, “there is no major new United States initiative underway. “He said the U.S. position continues to be that “we would like to see the various interested parties move closer. “This would have to happen “before we would contemplate mediation or something of that nature,” he said.