French President, Valery Giscard d'Estaing told Syrian President, Hafez Al-Assad on Thursday (17 June) that France was still prepared to send a peacekeeping force into Lebanon and to help organise a peace conference.
GV PAN Elysee Palace with guard of honour
Diplomats arrive with wives (2 shots)
GV Assad's car drives in, stops, he then steps out and enters palace with wife
MV President Giscard and wife welcome visitors
MV Assad and Giscard seated at banquet table
MV PAN Guests seated at table (2 shots)
GV Giscard and Assad at Marigny meet officials (2 shots)
GV Giscard makes welcoming statement watched by newsmen (2 shots)
GV Assad makes speech in reply
Syria has agreed to stop its troops advancing on Beirut, but fighting is still continuing. The civil war in the Lebanon between the Christian right-wing and the predominantly Moslem left started 14 months ago.
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Background: French President, Valery Giscard d'Estaing told Syrian President, Hafez Al-Assad on Thursday (17 June) that France was still prepared to send a peacekeeping force into Lebanon and to help organise a peace conference.
SYNOPSIS: President Giscard d'Estaing was speaking at a banquet at the Elysee Palace in honour of the visiting Syrian leader. Earlier in the day the two leaders held several rounds of talks, with Lebanon the main issue. Thursday's banquet was attended by almost all members of the French cabinet. Tight security precautions have been taken throughout Mr. Assad's visit, with police sharpshooters on rooftops around the Elysee Palace and other armed police in bullet-proof waistcoats patrolling the streets.
President Assad, considered a key figure in the Lebanese crisis, is making his first ever visit to the industrialised west. The closeness of French and Syrian policy on Lebanon was underlined during the visit two weeks ago by the Syrian Foreign Minister, Mr. Khaddam. At that time, the French Foreign Minister, Mr. Sauvagnargues said that the French and Syrians had identical views on Lebanon.
President Giscard d'Estaing ordered a lavish reception for his guest. The trip was originally planned for last March but had to be postponed when the situation deteriorated in Lebanon. This trip was also in doubt right up until the final day before President Assad left Syria. He had also planned to fly on to Yugoslavia and Romania for one-day state visits, but late on Wednesday night these were cancelled. No reason was given. Meanwhile, throughout Paris, new anti-Syrian slogans have appeared in the city's underground, denouncing the Syrian intervention in Lebanon. At in the Hotel Marigny, President Assad and President Giscard d'Estaing met for more discussions. President Giscard told his visitor that France and Syria were both concerned over the Lebanon crisis and he expressed the hope that their talks would bring useful results in the quest for peace.
President Giscard d'Estaing said France was still prepared to send a peacekeeping force to Lebanon and to help organise a peace conference. He said France did not seek to impose itself but to help. He said the Lebanese drama does not only complicate a settlement, but it also could provoke a new and more dangerous situation.
President Assad said the sole objective of Syrian troops in Lebanon was to help end the civil war. He said he had sent troops into Lebanon in response to a request from various Lebanese political parties and associations, as well as a call from the Palestine Liberation Organisation.