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French haste could quash UN Beirut force proposal

A proposal for a United Nations force for Beirut is likely to be stillborn this week at the Security Council because of French haste to bring things to a head, delegates here say.

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At the urging of French Foreign Minister Claude Cheysson, a resolution proposing that troops drawn from UNIFIL (UN Interim Force in Lebanon), now stationed in southern Lebanon, be sent to Beirut to replace the multinational force must come to a vote by Tuesday. Thus an almost miraculous consensus that was emerging last week on the creation of such a force may well come undone, Monitor contributor Louis Wiznitzer reports.

''Voting in favor of establishing such a force, whether it be drawn from UNIFIL or newly created, without there being an agreement among the Lebanese factions and among the regional and major powers with regard to the future of Lebanon would amount to a farce,'' one council member says.

While it is true that France has modified its draft to meet some US, Soviet, and nonaligned concerns, much remains to be done to bridge differing positions on substance. The French draft now mentions the need for all Western warships stationed off the Lebanese coast to leave Lebanon's territorial waters but makes no mention of other French or American warships that might replace them.

The Soviet Union, according to reliable sources, wants a text that spells out more firmly that the allies must not be allowed to intervene in Lebanon again. Nonaligned countries would like the creation of a UN force for Beirut to be linked to a comprehensive peace effort in the Mideast.

''The question of what exactly and precisely the force will be supposed to do and not to do, and of how long it is supposed to stay must be answered before the force is sent in. Otherwise it too will become the sitting duck for warring factions and have to be somwhat shamefully redeployed,'' says one UN official.

If the resolution is rejected, France is likely to pull out its 1,200 men from Beirut and blame it on the UN.

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