July 22, 1983
President Reagan. It is a great pleasure to welcome our friend, President Gemayel, to the White House again. We've had excellent talks today covering many vital concerns of both our countries. During his first visit here 9 months ago, President Gemayel and I discussed the principles upon which United States policy toward Lebanon is based: the full withdrawal of all foreign forces from Lebanon; support for a strong central government capable of asserting its authority over all of Lebanon; and security for Israel's northern border.
Today, I've reaffirmed these principles to President Gemayel. A united, sovereign, and independent Lebanon, free of all foreign forces, is the legitimate aspiration of the Government and the people of Lebanon and a goal shared by the people of the United States. Our talks today focused on the next steps in securing Lebanon's independence. We admire the courage and wisdom demonstrated by the Lebanese Government during its negotiations that resulted in an agreement for the departure of Israeli forces.
The United States remains firmly committed to the earliest possible resolution of the conflict in Lebanon. This morning, President Gemayel and I have gone over the difficult agenda and have agreed on next steps which we should take together to set this process in motion and carry it through.
And I have today designated Robert McFarlane, currently my Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs, as my Personal Representative in the Middle East. In that role, he will succeed Philip Habib, who must return to his business and academia duties. Phil has set a high standard in bringing us through 8 months of difficult negotiations to the situation we face today, and he will be sorely missed.
After further consultation here in Washington next week, Bud McFarlane and his team will depart for the Middle East within 10 days.
I'm happy to have had this opportunity to confer with President Gemayel once again. I'm impressed with the progress that he and the Government and people of Lebanon have made in rebuilding their country. It's my belief that energy and perseverance will triumph in the end. And as I told President Gemayel, we do not lack for either. Lebanon can count on our support.
Mr. President, pleased to have you here.
President Gemayel. My second visit to the White House in the course of the year is a further confirmation of our appreciation for the consistent support President Reagan has given Lebanon and the Lebanese objective, which is the withdrawal of all foreign forces and the reconstruction of a sovereign, democratic, and united Lebanon.
I'm very happy to have with me this time the Prime Minister, Mr. Shafiq Wazzan. This should emphasize the importance we attach to the visit. Indeed, conditions in Lebanon have changed immensely since my visit last October. And you are going through dramatic developments, highlighted in particular by today's events in Lebanon. During our meeting this morning and the talks held by my delegation with the State Department and the Pentagon, we have amply covered the various practical ways and means available to the Government of Lebanon and the United States in order to fulfill our common goals.
I continue to be confident that the major problems still confronting us in Lebanon and the Middle East can best be addressed and resolved by full cooperation with our Arab community and our American friends. President Reagan has reassured us of his continuing concern and determination to pursue his initiative in Lebanon with the same strength and commitment. Our two governments will intensify their consultations until the expected results are achieved.
I would like, finally, to thank Philip Habib. I'll tell him, he is always welcome in Lebanon. He is a friend of Lebanon. He was with us during the difficult time. And, also, I'll say in advance, welcome to Mr. McFarlane.
Note: President Reagan spoke at 1:18 p.m. to reporters assembled on the South Grounds of the White House.
Earlier, the two Presidents met in the Oval Office and then held a working luncheon, together with U.S. and Lebanese officials, in the State Dining Room.