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Gemayel’s Envoys Leave Damascus for Beirut

March 7, 1987

DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) _ Three close advisers of President Amin Gemayel of Lebanon today finished two days of talks with Syrian Foreign Minister Farouk Al-Sharaa on a new Syrian-proposed peace formula.

None of the three, Elie Salem, a former foreign minister, Col. Simon Kassis, Lebanon’s military inteligence chief and Nicolas Nasr, the Christian president’s legal adviser, would comment on their talks before their departure for Beirut aboard a Lebanese military helicopter.

They flew in Thursday and held three separate meetings with Al-Sharaa before heading back.

It was their first visit to Damascus since an estimated 7,500 Syrian soldiers rolled in to Moslem West Beirut Feb.22 to quell militia fighting and end the chaotic reign of rival Moslem militia groups. The intervention had been requested by Lebanon’s Moslem leaders.

Gemayel at first complained that he had not been consulted about the move but later withheld any comment and sent his envoys to Damascus for talks on a political settlement of the 11-year-old Lebanese civil war.

It was the team’s eighth visit since January when efforts to reconcile Gemayel with President Hafez Assad of Syria were launched. The reconciliation effort came one year after Gemayel and his Christian supporters rejected an earlier Syrian-brokered peace formula that had been accepted by the moslem leadership and Christian Lebanese factions opposed to the president.

The talks, sources said, centered on a blueprint Syria proposed last weekend after its intervention force completed deployment in Moslem West Beirut and closed all 75 militia offices there.

The proposal for political reforms designed to give Lebanon’s Moslem community an equal share of power was quickly endorsed by Lebanon’s main Moslem leaders.

But Gemayel has not given a final answer and his envoys are discussed these reforms ″point by point″ with the Syrians, said one source close to the Lebanese delegation.

The source said many points have been agreed, but a few sticking points remained.

The source, who did not wish to be named, said more talks were needed to resolve the differences, but insisted that the general atmosphere of the Syrian-Lebanese talks was ″very positive.″

Details of the plan to end the civil war that has left more than 100,000 Lebanese dead to date have not been officially disclosed either in Beirut or Damascus.

But the Lebanese press said the blueprint centers on constitutional amendments designed to give the Moslems equal power.

The reforms, according to these reports, would strip the president, traditionally a Christian, of his power to veto cabinet decisions and designate the prime minister, generally chosen from the Moslem community.

Lebanese Christians have dominated the parliament, judiciary, army and civil service since the country’s independence from France in 1943, when they were considred a majority of the population.

But the Moslem community has since grown to 1.9 million, compared with an estimated 1.1 million Christians.

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