WASHINGTON (Jan. 15)
The Reagan Administration welcomed today Israel’s decision to withdraw its troops from Lebanon and said it could be a “new impetus” for the Israeli-Lebanese talks at Nakura.
“The United States welcomes Israel’s decision to withdraw its forces from Lebanon,” State Department deputy spokesman Alan Romberg said. He said it was “consistent” with the U.S. effort to bring about a withdrawal of all foreign forces from that country.
Romberg would not comment specifically about the plan approved by the Israeli Cabinet yesterday which calls for the withdrawal in three stages, beginning in about five weeks and ending in six to nine months. But he noted that Israeli officials have said that Israel now plans to return to the talks at Nakura.
“We continue to support the UN -sponsored talks in Nakura for achieving arrangements necessary for the resolution of security problems in south Lebanon,” Romberg said. “We believe the Israeli decision could provide a new impetus for progress in Nakura for arrangements in the best interests of all parties involved.”
At the same time, Romberg said the U.S. would not become a participant in the talks which, he continually stressed, are under UN auspices. He said the U.S. will continue its present role of trying to be as “helpful as we can.” Romberg said there were no plans for Richard Murphy, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs, to return to the region, although he said he could not rule out the possibility of Murphy going there sometime soon.