United States Presidential envoy Philip Habib arrived in Damascus on Tuesday (1 December) on the second leg of his mission to try to defuse Middle East tension over Lebanon.
GV Newsmen outside Beirut building; SV car pulls up, Habib greeted by Lebanese official (2 shots)
SV INTERIOR Habib seated at left of group of three PAN TO AND ZOOM TO CU Lebanese Prime Minister Shafiq Al Wazzan
GV Car pulls up, Habib gets out and walks up steps to building
SV INTERIOR Habib and Lebanese Foreign Minister Fuad Butros seated with other officials
SCU Butros PULL OUT TO SV Habib and other officials
SV Security guards outside door
SV Habib leaves building and walks down steps to car; car pulls away as police watch (3 shots)
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Background: United States Presidential envoy Philip Habib arrived in Damascus on Tuesday (1 December) on the second leg of his mission to try to defuse Middle East tension over Lebanon. He is expected to try to persuade Syria to remove missiles it installed in the Bekaa region of eastern Lebanon earlier this year. Israel has threatened to destroy the sites if the Syrians refuse. The first stage of Mr. Habib's peace shuttle took him to Lebanon's capital, Beirut on Monday (30 November).
SYNOPSIS: This was the fourth Middle East tour since May for President Reagan's special envoy. Earlier this year, he defused the outbreak of full-scale fighting between Palestinian guerrillas and Israel. During the two weeks of conflict, Israel bombed South Lebanon and Beirut. There was also a series of heavy cross-border artillery exchanges, with casualties estimated at 300.
After an official welcome, Mr. Habib held his first round of talks with a Lebanese delegation, headed by Prime Minister Shafiq Al-Wazzan. The meeting broke up early because of differences over Saudi Arabia's Middle East peace plan.
Syria's officially-controlled press criticised the visit of the U.S. diplomat. The government newspaper 'Tishrin' said every previous mission by Mr. Habib coincided with an escalation of military activity in South Lebanon by Israel and the right-wing Falangist party. Before meeting with Prime Minister Al-Wazzan, Mr. Habib held talks with the Lebanese Foreign Minister Fuad Butros and the leaders of the Falangist movement. 'Tishrin said it appeared the United States was trying to put new pressure on Arab hardliner to agree to a Middle East settlement along American lines -- but the paper said the hardliners would not compromise, nor give in to pressure. This meeting also ended early because of differences over plans for peace in the region.
There was tight security in Beirut during the visit. Mr. Habib refused to make a statement on the talks, and his movements were not disclosed to newsmen, who were kept from the American envoy by a ring of police and security officials. It's believed Mr. Habib plans to visit Saudi Arabia and Israel after his Syrian stopover.