Statement by Deputy Press Secretary Speakes on the Situation in Lebanon

May 28, 1983

The Syrian buildup in Lebanon and along the border can only lead to increased tension in an already volatile area and could threaten the uneasy peace that now prevails in Lebanon.

We call on all those who are contributing to the tensions to exercise the utmost restraint so that the risk of conflict can be reduced.

Renewed armed conflict serves no one's interest. And the interest of all would best be served by a withdrawal of all forces from Lebanon so that the country can reassert sovereignty throughout its territory.

We understand that the Israelis who had previously been drawing down troop levels have begun to restore those levels in direct response to Syrian attacks on Israeli aircraft and a substantial buildup of Syrian troops in the Bekaa [Valley] and along the border.

We greatly regret that the uneasy peace that has prevailed in Lebanon is once again threatened. We urge restraint and say that these tensions can only further complicate diplomatic efforts that are taking place in the region.

Note: Deputy Press Secretary Larry M. Speakes read the statement during his daily briefing for reporters, which began at 11:13 a.m. in Room 105 of William and Mary Hall at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Va.