Statement by Deputy Press Secretary Speakes on the Situation in Lebanon
September 15, 1982 This latest violent tragedy only reemphasizes the need for urgency in the search for peace in the Middle East. The United States intends to continue to press ahead vigorously with the President's initiative to broaden the participation at the peace talks.
We have been in frequent touch with senior officials of the Government of Lebanon and with other prominent Lebanese personalities. Our support for their efforts to maintain order should be clear. We have also contacted Israeli officials in Beirut, Washington, and in Israel. They told us that their military moves are limited and precautionary. We have urged they do nothing to increase tensions.
The central Government of Lebanon remains in place. We will be consulting with President Sarkis, Prime Minister Wazzan, and other Lebanese Government officials to explore ways we can support their efforts to maintain stability. We adhere to the goals we share with the Government of Lebanon of internal unity and withdrawal of all foreign forces.
While we deplore the shocking assassination of President-elect Gemayel, it is essential that we not lose sight of these important objectives which Lebanon has set for itself. The restoration of central government authority remains key to Lebanon's future. We will do everything we can to assist this process through this difficult period in the country's history. Ambassador Draper has the full support of the President and will continue to work closely with the Government of Lebanon in pursuit of its objectives. Those objectives parallel our own support for: the withdrawal of all foreign military forces from Lebanon; the strengthening of the central government and the reestablishment of its authority throughout Lebanon; the creation of conditions which ensure that Lebanon will never again be a launching pad for attacks against Israel; and the promotion of national unity and reconciliation, along with strengthening of all national institutions, including the army.
Note: Deputy Press Secretary Larry M. Speakes read the statement during his morning briefing for reporters, which began in his office at 9:15 a.m.