Former French Premier Maurice Couve de Murville ended his peace mission to Lebanon on Sunday (30 November) and immediately left for discussion on the situation with neighbouring Syria.
SV INT F.M. Khaddam receives Couve de Murville and members of delegation
SV & CU Couve de Murville and Khaddam seated (2 shots)
GV PAN DOWN EXT Old Turkish palace in Beirut
SCU INT Couve de Murville speaking in French
French envoy Maurice Couve de Murville arrived in Damascus on Sunday for talks with Syrian leaders on the Lebanon crisis. His first talks in the Syrian capital were with Foreign Minister Abdel-Halim Khaddam. The to men discussed the eight months of war which has claimed at least four thousand victims in neighbouring Lebanon. The former French Premier was later expected to meet Syrian President Hafez Al-Assad during his two-day visit on the outcome of his ten-day peace mission in Lebanon.
In Beirut, M. Couve de Murville held a news conference before leaving for Syria.
He told newsmen he was going to Damascus because Syria was Lebanon's neighbour, and therefore, was directly concerned with what was happening there. M. Couve de Murville said he thought it would be useful to explain to Syrian leaders the spirit in which the French peace mission had taken place and the conclusions that were reached. He said Lebanese leaders had made real progress towards ending the fighting among political and religious communities.
M. Couve de Murville said he wanted to exchange views with the Syrians on the Lebanese situation. He said he felt the spirit of the peace mission would continue in Syria as he believed the Syrians, like the French, felt it was necessary that Lebanon remained a united country.
But even as the French envoy was speaking, shots were heard near the French ambassador's residence where the news conference was held, indicating that the fighting in Beirut will continue for some time to come.
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Background: Former French Premier Maurice Couve de Murville ended his peace mission to Lebanon on Sunday (30 November) and immediately left for discussion on the situation with neighbouring Syria.
Before leaving Beirut, the French envoy told a new conference that Lebanese leaders had made real progress towards ending nearly eight months of civil strife which has claimed at least 4,000 victims.
But even as he spoke, shots rang out near the French ambassador's residence, venue for the conference.
M. Couve de Murville, envoy of French President Valery Giscard D'Estaing, said that "very definite progress had been achieved by Lebanese leaders seeking a political formula acceptable to the complex mixture of political and religious groups there".
At the end of his 10-day mission, M. Couve de Murville explained his reasons for going to Syria. He said Syria was Lebanon's next-door neighbour and was therefore directly concerned. He said he understood Syria, like France, felt that it was necessary for Lebanon to remain a united country.
The French envoy was greeted on the Syrian-Lebanese borders by Syrian Foreign Minister Abdel-Halim Khaddam. The two men spent two hours discussing strife-torn Lebanon.
During his two-day visit, M. Couve de Murville is scheduled to confer with President Hafez Al-Assad and other Syrian leaders over the outcome of his peace mission.