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What was in that famous letter that Reagan sent to Menachem Begin? No one outside official circles knows. But whatever it was, Begin was dissuaded from attacking Syrian missile batteries in Lebanon -- at least for the moment -- in favor of letting diplomacy work.

Begin described the letter as one of the "warmest" an American president had ever sent to an Israeli leader. Informed sources say the letter, while warm, urged caution, but did not significantly boost America's already substantial commitment to Israel.

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Begin's description of the letter was meant to reassure Israelis and to win points in opinion polls.m

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