Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, July 11, 1983, Page 6
Facts For Your Files: A Chronology of U.S.-Middle East Relations
Secretary of State George Shultz sought to play down the significance of Syria's expulsion from Damascus of PLO chairman Yasser Arafat June 24, saying that "We (the U.S.) must focus our attention more and more on the human beings called Palestinians," rather than on the Palestinian groups representing them.
President Reagan signed into law a $251 million emergency aid bill for Lebanon which provides $150 million for economic recovery, $100 million for military equipment purchases and $1 million for training Lebanon's army.
The Defense Department announced its plans to provide Lebanon's army with $57 million worth of military gear, including 102 armored personnel carriers, 95 vehicles to transport mortar equipment, 25 mobile command posts, machine guns, communications equipment, spare parts and other supplies. The transfer represents the third installment of military aid to Lebanon since November under a U.S. program designed to rebuild the Lebanese army.
Against the backdrop of Yasser Arafat's expulsion from Damascus and Syria's increased support for PLO rebels opposed to Mr. Arafat, Secretary of State George Shultz said: “The greater the Syrian role in PLO affairs, the more likely it would be that, if Syria decides to withdraw (from Lebanon), the PLO will wind up withdrawing."
A Pentagon spokesman said that on June 29 two U.S. Navy F-14 jet fighters from the aircraft carrier Eisenhower intercepted two Libyan MIG-23 fighters in international waters 25 miles off the Libyan coast when the Libyan planes came within 108 miles of the Eisenhower, which was on patrol in the Mediterranean.
At the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), in Belgrade, the U.S. voted against a resolution condemning Israel's policies toward the Palestinians. Israel was the only other country voting against the resolution, while 84 nations approved it and 20 others abstained.
After concluding a ten-day visit to Asia July 3, Secretary of State George Shultz began a tour of several Middle Eastern countries, a trip which he said was designed "to gather information directly and assess the situation" on the prospects for a Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon. Mr. Shultz's first stop was in Saudi Arabia.
Michael P. W. Stone, director of the Egyptian mission of the Agency for International Development, announced that the Reagan Administration had decided to give Egypt $100 million in economic aid to complete the fourth and final 150-megawatt unit of the 600-megawatt Abu Sultan hydroelectric plant in Ismailia.
Following his nearly five-hour meeting with Syria's President Hafez al-Assad, Secretary of State George Shultz said that he and the Syrian president "had no agreement about the agreement" signed last May 17 between Israel and Lebanon, which provided for the conditional withdrawal of Israeli troops from Lebanon.
Secretary of State George Shultz returned to Washington after spending four days in the Middle East meeting with leaders there and assessing the prospects for implementing the Lebanon-Israel agreement which he helped negotiate. Mr. Shultz made stops in Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Syria.