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No Replacement for Special U.S. Mideast Envoy: Diplomatic Efforts by Administration in the Arab-isra

May 21, 1984
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The announcement by the White House that President Reagan will not replace Donald Rumsfeld who has resigned as U.S. special envoy to the Middle East, was seen here as an indication that specific diplomatic efforts by the Administration in the Arab-Israeli dispute and the situation in Lebanon have been suspended, at least for the time being.

Rumsfeld, who took the assignment last November, replacing special envoy Robert McFarlane, submitted his resignation to the President on May 15, to return to private business. Reagan promptly accepted it, praising Rumsfeld for his “invaluable” contributions “during a critical period.” He made his last trip to the region on March 29.

White House press spokesman Larry Speakes said Friday that Reagan will not appoint a new special envoy to the Middle East. That diplomatic assignment has not been vacant since Reagan summoned Philip Habib out of retirement in May, 1981, to help defuse a developing crisis between Israel and Syria over Soviet-made SAM anti-aircraft missiles deployed by the Syrians in eastern Lebanon.

Habib, who was involved in negotiating an Israel-PLO cease-fire on the Lebanese border and later the evacuation of PLO forces from Beirut, was succeeded by McFarlane who served until he was named National Security Advisor.


Speakes acknowledged that there are no negotiations currently underway in the Middle East but denied suggestions that the U.S. was dropping out. He said the President has “a competent corps of ambassadors” in Middle Eastern countries on which he relies. Nevertheless, American diplomatic activity aimed at resolving the Lebanon crisis and bringing moderate Arab countries into direct negotiations with Israel, has been marking time for several months.

The U.S. completed the withdrawal of its marines from Beirut last February, and France pulled its forces out shortly afterwards, ending the multi-national force that had consisted of contingents from the U.S., France, Britain and Italy. There was no high level U.S. presence at the Lebanese national reconcilation conference in Lausanne, Switzerland last March.


Efforts to advance Reagan’s September 1, 1982 peace initiative have also been stalled. King Hussein of Jordan who was to have played a pivotal role, charged in a New York Times interview last March that the U.S.

But Reagan has continued to assert that he remains committed to his 1982 initiative and regards it as the only viable road to peace between Israel and its neighbors.

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