WASHINGTON (Jun. 13)
A ranking State Department official blamed the Soviet Union for the impasse in Lebanon and accused it of blocking the withdrawal of all foreign forces from that country.
Lawrence Eagleburger, Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs, also praised Israel as “perhaps our most outstanding success story in developing a series of nations in that area (the Middle East) able to defend themselves from internal subversion and external aggression, with strong economies and just societies.”
Eagleburger spoke yesterday at the opening session of the 24th annual meeting of the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) here. The Soviets are “deeply engaged in Syria in preventing removal of foreign forces from Lebanon, ” he said, adding that the U.S. had “hoped the new Soviet leadership would be more cooperative in relations with the United States.” He also observed that “We want changes in Soviet behavior in human rights.”
ISRAEL’S ENEMIES ARE SOVIET CLIENTS
Eagleburger said “It is no coincidence that Israelis most implacable enemies are by and large clients of the Soviet Union. Many of the other states in the region, however, share with the United States and Israel a common interest in resisting Soviet encroachments in the Middle East. Most of the dramatic evolution toward peace in the Middle East over the last decade has stemmed from the growing realization that the conflict with Israel runs counter to this interest,” Eagleburger said.
The State Department official said America’s “ongoing generous economic assistance not only helps Israel defend itself. It is also an investment in our own country’s security. Israel’s democratic institutions and its political stability make it a reliable and dependable friend. Its military power is seen by the Soviets as standing in the way of their expansionist ambitions in the Middle East. The security of Israel is vital to American interests,” Eagleburger maintained, and “We will not stand idly by in the face of Soviet threats to that security.”
Speaking of the situation in Lebanon, Eagleburger said, “Although the Lebanese have no fundamental quarrel with Israel, the domination of large areas of Lebanon by Soviet-backed foreign forces blocked all avenues to peace. With the elimination of that bellicose presence from its capital and the conclusion of an agreement that would provide for withdrawal of Israeli forces, we believe that Lebanon is now back on the road both to full sovereignty over its territory and to productive relations with its neighbors.”
With respect to Syria, Eagleburger said “Syria must now decide whether it will assist Lebanon in ridding itself of all foreign forces or will seek to keep that country in a state of torment.” He accused the Soviets of trying “to disrupt the peace process at every turn” and cited “the current heavy build-up in Syria, reinforcing resistance to the Lebanese-Israeli agreement,” as “the most recent example of this irresponsibility.”
Eagleburger said the U.S. was “deeply concerned by the virtual cessation of Jewish emigration from the Soviet Union.” He said that “in any meetings he has had with Soviet officials, Secretary of State George Shultz has reiterated and will continue to reiterate that Soviet refusal to permit Jewish emigration is not only a violation of its obligations under the Helsinki accords, but it is also a serious obstacle to the improvement of United States-Soviet relations.”