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Monday, 6 December 1976


Mr PEACOCK (KOOYONG, VICTORIA) (Minister for Foreign Affairs) - We have almost completed that review. It has taken a little longer than expected. However, with the cease fire in Beirut we have been able to get a task force into Beirut to make an assessment on the ground both as to the security for any proposed reopening of the Beirut embassy and on less important matters such as the condition of our buildings. We should be able to make an announcement in the course of the next couple of weeks. So far as aid is concerned, I previously announced what we have done in regard to direct assistance through Caritas and Red Cross. I am considering a further proposal which has been put to me in regard to wheat. I should be able to announce a decision on that in the course of the next few days. I refer now to the opening of the post in Damascus, which is the thrust of the question so far as immigration is concerned. Should a decision be taken to reopen that post, following the report that I receive from Mr Starey, the officer who was left in charge of Beirut, we will of course expedite the entry of Australian immigration personnel, and the diplomatic officials would follow later on.







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