U.S. Urges Syria to Expel Abu Nidal Group from Syrian-controlled Bekaa Valley in Lebanon

The Reagan Administration urged Syria today to expel the Abu Nidal terrorist group from the Syrian-controlled Bekaa Valley in Lebanon. “We are hoping to convince Syria to expel the Abu Nidal group entirely,” State Department spokesman Bernard Kalb said.

Secretary of State George Shuitz, in an appearance yesterday on CBS-TV’s “Face The Nation,” said that the members of the Abu Nidal group which carried out the attacks on the Rome and Vienna airports December 27, came from camps in the Bekao Valley and flew to Europe via Damascus. But he said he did not know to what extent the Syrian authorities knew of the terrorist plans.

Kalb stressed today that the United States does not plan to take economic sanctions against Syria as it has against Libya which he noted is “the leading supporter of Abu Nidal.”

“Our primary aim is to induce Syria to refrain from supporting terrorism and to that end we have placed Syria on the terrorist list,” Kalb said. He said the U.S. is using diplomatic means “directly and through friendly third parties” to convince Syria that supporting terrorism is “not in its interests.”

The U.S. would in particular like Syria to remove the Abu Nidal terrorists and facilities from remove the Abu Nidal terrorists and facilities from the Bekaa, Kalb said. He stressed the U.S. “focus” is presently on Libya. To that end, Deputy Secretary of State John Whitehead leaves Wednesday for Canada and Europe to show proof of Libyan support for international terrorism and explain the American sanctions against Libya in the hope that these countries will take similar action.

Shultz said yesterday that the Europeans do not argue that Libya is involved in terrorism since, “after all, these acts take place much more in Europe than they do here.”

He said he is beginning to see a response from Canada and the Europeans. “I don’t think it’s a snap of the fingers type of thing,” Shultz stressed, “it’s a consciousness-raising and long-term effort that we are involved in.”

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