Ronald Reagan Administration: Press Conference with Israeli PM Begin Following Meeting
(June 21, 1982)
The President. It's been worthwhile to have Prime Minister Begin at the White House again.
All of us share a common understanding of the need to bring peace and security to the Middle East. Today, we've had an opportunity to exchange views on how this cause can be advanced. On Lebanon, it's clear that we and Israel both seek an end to the violence there and a sovereign, independent Lebanon under the authority of a strong, central government.
We agree that Israel must not be subjected to violence from the north, and the United States will continue to work to achieve these goals and to secure the withdrawal of all foreign forces from Lebanon.
And, now, our guest, Prime Minister Begin.
The Prime Minister. Thank you, Mr. President.
Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon. I'm deeply grateful to my friend, the President of the United States, for his invitation to come to visit with him again, after my first visit in September 1981, in the White House and hold a discussion, a very fruitful discussion with the President and his advisers.
Everybody of you knows that we face now a situation in the Middle East which calls for activity, great attention, and understanding. I have read in some newspapers in this great country that Israel invaded Lebanon. This is a misnomer. Israel did not invade any country. You do invade a land when you want to conquer it or to annex it or, at least, to conquer part of it. We don't covet even 1 inch of Lebanese territory. And, willingly, we will withdraw our troops, all of our troops, and bring them back home as soon as possible. "As soon as possible" means as soon as arrangements are made that never again will our citizens—men, women, and children—be attacked, maimed, and killed by armed bands operating from Lebanon, and armed and supported by the Soviet Union and its satellites.
There is hope to believe that such arrangements will be made and that all foreign forces, without exception, will be withdrawn from Lebanon, and there will be an independent, free Lebanon based on its territorial integrity. And the day is near that such a Lebanon and Israel will sign a peace treaty and live in peace forever.
Sources: Public Papers of the President