The President, as you know, spoke this morning with Prime Minister Begin regarding the postponement of the Prime Minister's visit to Washington, which had been scheduled for next week.
While we regret the President and the Prime Minister will not be able to meet next week, we look forward to rescheduling the meeting before the end of the year.
Meanwhile, we anticipate discussions on the Middle East peace process with Israel and other nations in the region will continue. We see this as in no way an impediment to the progress of our peace initiative in Lebanon or in the region as a whole. Secretary Shultz has just completed an extensive round of talks with the leaders of Israel, Syria, Egypt, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan regarding the current situation. In Israel, he had detailed discussions with the Prime Minister, the Foreign Minister, and the Defense Minister. We anticipate our diplomatic discussions will continue at all levels during this critical period.
As far as the President is concerned, we will continue our pursuit of the full withdrawal of all foreign forces from Lebanon, the reestablishment of Lebanon's sovereignty over all its territory, and the security of its borders. We will continue to have discussions with all parties leading toward this objective.
At the same time, we will continue our pursuit of peace as outlined by the President last September 1.
Note: Deputy Press Secretary Larry M. Speakes read the statement to reporters assembled in the Briefing Room at the White House for the daily press briefing, which began at 12:30 p.m.
Earlier in the day, Mr. Speakes announced that Prime Minister Menachem Begin of Israel telephoned the President that morning to say that he would have to postpone his visit to the United States for personal reasons.
Sources: Public Papers of the President