Ronald Reagan Administration: Statement on Deployment of United States Forces in Beirut
(August 20, 1982)
The President. Thank you all, and let me just say in advance, I'll be taking no questions, because Secretary Shultz, a little later today, will be having a full press conference. So, you can take everything up there with him.
Ambassador Habib has informed me that a plan to resolve the west Beirut crisis has been agreed upon by all the parties involved. As part of this plan the Government of Lebanon has requested and I have approved the deployment of United States forces to Beirut as part of a multinational force.
The negotiations to develop this plan have been extremely complex and have been conducted in the most arduous circumstances. At times it was difficult to imagine how agreement could be reached, and yet it has been reached. The statesmanship and the courage of President Sarkis and his colleagues in the Lebanese Government deserve special recognition, as does the magnificent work of Ambassador Habib. Phil never lost hope, and in the end his spirit and determination carried the day, and we all owe him a debt of gratitude.
The parties who made this plan possible have a special responsibility for ensuring its successful completion, or implementation. I expect its terms to be carried out in good faith and in accordance with the agreed timetable. This will require meticulous adherence to the cease-fire. Violations by any party would imperil the plan and bring renewed bloodshed and tragedy to the people of Beirut, and under no circumstances must that be allowed to happen.
As you know, my agreement to include United States forces in a multinational force was essential for our success. In the days ahead, they and forces from France and Italy will be playing an important but carefully limited, noncombatant role. The parties to the plan have agreed to this role and have provided assurances on the safety of our forces.
Our purpose will be to assist the Lebanese Armed Forces in carrying out their responsibility for ensuring the departure of PLO leaders, officers, and combatants in Beirut from Lebanese territory under safe and orderly conditions. The presence of United States forces also will facilitate the restoration of the sovereignty and authority of the Lebanese Government over the Beirut area. In no case will our troops stay longer than 30 days.
The participation of France and Italy in this effort is further evidence of the sense of responsibility of these good friends of the United States. Successful resolution of the west Beirut crisis by responsible implementation of the plan now agreed will set the stage for the urgent international action required to restore Lebanon's full sovereignty, unity, and territorial integrity; obtain the rapid withdrawal of all foreign forces from that country; and help ensure the security of northern Israel.
We must also move quickly in the context of Camp David to resolve the Palestinian issue in all its aspects, as well as the other unresolved problems in the Arab-Israeli conflict. Only when all these steps are accomplished can true and lasting peace and security be achieved in the Middle East.
End of statement. Thank you.
Q. Mr. President, how can you be sure that American troops will stay safe?
The President. I said no questions because of the press conference that's coming up later, and that will be covered. And I assure you that every precaution is taken and that your questions will be answered fully by the Secretary with regard to that -- and to their withdrawal, if there is any violation of any of the provisions that have been agreed upon.
Q. If they're shot at, will they be withdrawn, sir, immediately?
The President. What?
Q. If they're shot at, will they be withdrawn immediately?
The President. Yes. Yes.
Q. Did the congressional leaders not want to appear with you here today?
Deputy Press Secretary Speakes. We said no questions, please.
The President. No, they said the Senate had to run because they were due in at 9 o'clock in their session that began, so they broke up and decided to go back on the Hill. And I think they all want to go home. So do I.
Sources: Public Papers of the President