U.N. Leader Meets with Israeli, Dispatches Emissary to Lebanon

U.N. Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar met briefly Tuesday with a representative from Israel’s mission to the United Nations.

The meeting took place on the heels of an announcement that Perez de Cuellar was sending Marrack Goulding, undersecretary-general for special political affairs, to the Middle East on a fact-finding mission to try to determine exactly what happened to U.S. Lt. Col. William Higgins.

Higgins headed the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization in Lebanon before he was kidnapped in February 1988 by a faction of the Islamic fundamentalist Hezbollah, or Party of God.

Goulding, who is presently in Europe, will travel first to southern Lebanon, where United Nations forces are stationed.

A U.N. spokesman indicated that Goulding also will travel to other countries in the Middle East, but would not specify where.

Part of Goulding’s agenda in Lebanon will be an attempt to recover Higgins’ body.

His corpse would be the best evidence to determine whether Higgins was killed Monday, after the Israeli capture of Sheikh Abdul Karim Obeid, or some time much earlier, as some have suggested.

David Matnai, second-in-command at Israel’s U.N. mission, met with Perez de Cuellar on Tuesday afternoon. He was standing in for Acting U.N. Ambassador Johanan Bein, who is in Israel.

The Israelis described the meeting as “cordial” and said Matnai expressed his concern regarding Higgins and the other hostages.

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