President Sarkis of Lebanon has made a major New Year speech to members of the diplomatic corps, in which he discussed the problems of conflict and security in his troubled country.
President Sarkis of Lebanon has made a major New Year speech to members of the diplomatic corps, in which he discussed the problems of conflict and security in his troubled country. Ambassadors gathered at the Baabda Palace near Beirut for the function.
SYNOPSIS: President Sarkis' review of the current situation in his country came at a time of increasing tension in the south. France's decision to withdraw its operational troops from the United Nations force threatened to leave a power vacuum, and the number of guerrillas in the area increased. The Lebanese government decided to send troops of its own army to help keep the peace. A similar attempt by the Lebanese army last year (1978) was halted by right wing militia artillery fire. Before the speech the ambassadors were each presented to President Sarkis and Foreign Minister Fuad Butros.
President Sarkis stressed that the U.N. troops should be reinforced and should use effective means to impose their presence in the south. Speaking about the armed confrontation in Beirut, he said the presence of Syrian troops was essential to help realise his governments objectives.
President Sarkis criticised proposals that Palestinians should be settled in the countries where they are currently resident. He said Lebanon could never agree to accept Palestinians as permanent residents. Mr Sarkis pledged his government to work to implement the proposals of the Beiteddin conference of Arab foreign ministers last October, including disarming the militias and the restoration of peace.