Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, April 30, 1984, Page 6
Facts For Your Files: A Chronology of U.S.-Middle East Relations
President Reagan notified Congress that he was formally ending U.S. participation in the multinational peacekeeping force in Lebanon, thereby allowing U.S. ships still offshore to resume routine operations. The President said that a total of 264 U.S. servicemen had been killed in Lebanon, and another 137 wounded. He added: "U.S. foreign policy interests in Lebanon have not changed," despite the withdrawal of U.S. forces.
The U.S. imposed restrictions on the sale to Iraq of five chemical compounds, which go into making the poisonous gases that the U.S. has accused Iraq of using against Iran. State Department spokesman John Hughes said the new regulations also applied to Iran, although it has not been accused by the U.S. of employing the gases. Later on the same day, U.S. Customs agents at New York's Kennedy Airport impounded 1, 100 pounds of one of the restricted chemicals, potassium fluoride, which had been destined for Iraq but had been held up since March 2 by Customs officials.
State Department spokesman Alan Romberg denied allegations by the American Jewish Congress (AJC) that the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem "conducts its affairs in ways that are inimical to Israeli and American interests." Mr. Romberg said: "Any charges about improper behavior or intentions on behalf of or on the part of the Consul General or any of the personnel in the Consulate General are totally misplaced and, indeed, irresponsible."
President Reagan said at a news conference that his Mideast peace proposal of Sept. 1, 1982, "continues to be our plan." He said his Administration was engaged in efforts to persuade Arab leaders "that we can be evenhanded..." in efforts to reach a peace settlement.
President Reagan said that Congress was partly to blame for the failure of U.S. policy in Lebanon because of its debate early this year over whether to withdraw the marines. "I believe that once we established bipartisan agreement on our course in Lebanon," the President said, "the subsequent second-guessing about whether to keep our men there severely undermined our policy. It hindered the ability of our diplomats to negotiate, encouraged more intransigence from the Syrians and prolonged the violence."
State Department spokesman John Hughes said that the U.S. had decided in principle to lease—for a period of six months—an unspecified number of Stinger antiaircraft missiles to Saudi Arabia, for a "special, sensitive protective service." Other Administration officials said the Saudis requested the missiles to help protect a new yacht expected to be used by King Fahd. However, the Saudis have said publicly that they do not intend to use the missiles for that purpose. The leasing decision comes less than three weeks after President Reagan cancelled a proposed sale of 1,200 Stingers to the Saudis—citing congressional opposition as the reason.
Vice President George Bush criticized Walter Mondale and Gary Hart, the two leading contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination, for not having, in the view of Mr. Bush, adequately chastised candidate Jesse Jackson for his failure to "disavow unequivocally" statements by Louis Farrakhan. Mr. Farrakhan, a black minister who heads the Nation of Islam movement, allegedly threatened the life of a Washington Post reporter and made threatening remarks toward "all Jews," according to Mr. Bush. Mr. Bush told members of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee: "We denounce the intrusion of anti-Semitism into the American political process and believe it has no place in our system."
Pentagon officials announced that the two AWACS surveillance planes despatched to Egypt on March 19 had returned to the United States.
The State Department called on Israel in a statement to be more flexible" in permitting Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip "to undertake economic activity, at their own initiative, to develop local industry." According to the statement, "Israel has not been forthcoming in allowing such (economic development) activities to go forward," although it said Israel had recently approved some U.S.-funded projects—a step described as "helpful." Controversy on this subject has been generated in recent days by the release of an independent report charging Israel with diverting U.S. assistance away from Palestinian development projects in the occupied territories.
Anticipating a possible bid by the PLO to seek appropriate recognition and entry into the 1984 summer Olympics, Congressman Mel Levine (D-Calif.) disclosed that he and 53 House members had sent a letter to the International Olympic Committee urging it to reject any application by the PLO. The letter stated that recognizing the PLO "would be morally repugnant and inconsistent with the International Olympic Committee's charter. The PLO represents neither a geographical area nor the Palestinian people."
Frank Regier, an American professor kidnapped in Beirut last February 10, was rescued in West Beirut by members of the Amal Shiite militia. Mr. Regier, who was freed along with a French engineer, said he did not know the identity of his abductors.
On the subject of "state-sponsored terrorism," a theme he has addressed several times earlier this month, Secretary of State George Shultz repeated his warning that "purely defensive" measures were inadequate to stop it. The Administration has "reached some conclusions" about how to deal with the problem, according to White House spokesman Larry Speakes, but he would not specify what concrete steps might be taken. On April 3, Mr. Shultz identified Iran, Libya, North Korea, and Syria as countries "sponsoring" terrorism.
The Reagan Administration supported "without reservation" Britain's decision—announced earlier in the day—to break diplomatic relations with Libya. White House spokesman Larry Speakes characterized the action as "totally appropriate." The move stemmed from an incident at the Libyan embassy in London April 17, when a Libyan inside the embassy fired a machine gun at anti-Qadhafi demonstrators outside—wounding 11 of them and killing one British policewoman.