Statement by Deputy Press Secretary Speakes on the Death of American and French Military Personnel in Beirut, Lebanon

October 23, 1983

The President held extensive meetings today with his senior advisers to consider the United States response to the deliberate and heinous acts of international terrorism in Beirut against American and French forces. These forces are present to assist a peaceful settlement of the Lebanese crisis. This settlement is essential to regional and world peace. These attacks were clearly designed to weaken our determination and to disrupt the efforts of the Government of Lebanon to regain control and sovereignty over the country. One thing is clear: Those who sponsor these outrages believe that they can intimidate the Government of Lebanon, its people, and their friends in the international community. They are wrong. We will not yield to international terrorism, because we know that if we do the civilized world will suffer and our values will be fair game for those who seek to destroy all we stand for.

The President has directed that General P. X. Kelley, Commandant of the Marine Corps, depart for Beirut to undertake a complete review of ways to provide better protection for the marine contingent in Lebanon. We also intend to respond to this criminal act when the perpetrators are identified. The President is consulting closely with our MNF allies and the Lebanese Government. Our actions will be resolute and consistent with stated policies and objectives.

The President is communicating with our MNF partners and the Government of Lebanon. He is stressing that we remain determined to pursue our stated objectives in Lebanon which are to ensure that Lebanon can be restored as an independent and sovereign nation, free of all foreign forces, and free to reconstitute a national consensus. We and the Government of Lebanon remain committed to the process of national reconciliation and an accommodation of the legitimate interests of all the Lebanese people. We have stressed to President Gemayel the necessity of persevering in his courageous decision to broaden the political base and composition of his government, and we will assure that he can do so without surrendering to those who reject political solutions and seek to impose their will by violent means.

Note: Deputy Press Secretary Larry M. Speakes read the statement to reporters assembled in the Briefing Room at the White House at 7:06 p.m.