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U.S. Says Clash in Lebanon Shows Need for Rapid Troops Withdrawal

December 9, 1982
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The Reagan Administration stressed today that the clash between Israeli and Lebanese troops at an east Beirut checkpoint this morning, demonstrates the need for the rapid withdrawal of all foreign troops from Lebanon.

Noting that the Israelis said the clash occurred as a result of a “misunderstanding,” State Department deputy spokesman Alan Romberg said: “Nonetheless, this latest incident serves to illustrate the urgency for the withdrawal of all foreign forces from Lebanon so that the government of Lebanon can assert its authority and control over all of Lebanon.”

At the White House, President Reagan was quoted by his spokesman, Larry Speakes, as saying that one of the reasons it was “urgent” to “move forward” with the withdrawal of troops as rapidly as possible was the danger of violent occurrences. Speakes said Reagan will meet soon with the two U.S. special envoys to the Middle East, Philip Habib and Morris Draper, who returned to Washington last night.


The two envoys briefed senior Administration officials at the White House this morning, including Vice President George Bush, Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger, National Security Advisor William Clark, Deputy Secretary of State Kenneth Dam, and CIA director William Casey. Secretary of State George Shultz is in Europe.

Romberg said Habib and Draper reported on the “progress” in the Middle East and particularly on the efforts for the “rapid withdrawal” of Israeli and Syrian troops and Palestine Liberation Organization forces from Lebanon. He did not elaborate on what he meant by “progress.”

The U.S. is reportedly upset by the lack of progress on the withdrawal of foreign forces from Lebanon and is blaming this on Israel for insisting that its negotiations with Lebanon be held in Jerusalem.

Romberg said Habib returned here as scheduled to report on his “round of consultations” and that Draper was asked to accompany him to join in the discussions with Administration officials. Reagan sent Habib back to the Middle East last month, not only to deal with the situation in Lebanon but with the overall Middle East efforts, including Reagan’s September 1 peace initiative. Speakes stressed today that the President remains “fully committed” to his peace initiative.

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