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Temporary closure of Beirut Embassy



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MINISTER FOR

FOREIGN AFFAIRS

No. m 67 Date n j une 1982

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NEWS RELEASE THE HON. TONY STREET, M.P.

TEMPORARY CLOSURE OF BEI RUT EMBASSY

The M i n i s t e r f o r F o r e i g n A f f a i r s / t he Hon. Tony

S t r e e t MR/ s a i d t o d a y t h a t t h e s e c u r i t y s i t u a t i o n i n

B e i r u t was so s e r i o u s t h a t t h e r e wer e u n a c c e p t a b l e r i s k s

f a c i n g A u s t r a l i a n s t a f f . The Gover nment had been

c o mp e l l e d t o a c t t o c l o s e f o r t h e t i me b e i n g t h e A u s t r a l i a n

Embassy t o Lebanon and t o w i t h d r a w t h e A u s t r a l i a n s t a f f

members and t h e i r d e p e n d e n t s . The A u s t r a l i a n Amba ssador /

Mr Da v i d W i l s o n / woul d r emai n i n Damascus wher e he was a l s o

a c c r e d i t e d .

The M i n i s t e r s a i d t h a t / even b e f o r e t he c u r r e n t

a c t i o n by I s r a e l i n L e b a n o n / t h e r e had been an e s c a l a t i o n

of v i o l e n c e i n B e i r u t i n c l u d i n g a t t a c k s on d i p l o m a t i c ,

m i s s i o n s whi ch had r e p r e s e n t e d a g r a v e t h r e a t t o t h e s a f e t y

of t h e s t a f f of t h e A u s t r a l i a n Embassy. The q u e s t i o n of

t h e i r w i t h d r a w a l had a l r e a d y been under c o n s i d e r a t i o n when

I s r a e l i a i r a t t a c k s and t h e i r s ub s e que nt i n v a s i o n of

S o u t h e r n Lebanon added a f u r t h e r d i me n s i o n t o t h e da nge r ous

s i t u a t i o n c o n f r o n t i n g r e s i d e n t s of t h e Lebanese c a p i t a l .

A u s t r a l i a d i d not have t h e r e s o u r c e s of some l a r g e r .

c o u n t r i e s i n a f f o r d i n g a p p r o p r i a t e p r o t e c t i o n t o Embassy s t a f f

Mr S t r e e t went on t o say t h a t t h e Gover nment was

c on c e r ne d i n t h e c i r c u m s t a n c e s t o m a i n t a i n i t s good and c l o s e

r e l a t i o n s -wi -th t h e Gover nment of L e b a non. The f u n c t i o n s

o f t h e B e i r u t m i s s i o n i n k e e p i n g i n t ouc h w i t h t h e Lebanese

a u t h o r i t i e s / i n r e p o r t i n g d e v e l o p me n t s i n t he - l o c a l and

r e g i o n a l s i t u a t i o n and i n p r o v i d i n g c o n s u l a r s e r v i c e s woul d

be assumed by A u s t r a l i a n mi s s i o n s i n n e i g h b o u r i n g c o u n t r i e s .

The p r o v i s i o n o f s h o r t - t e r m v i s i t o r v i s a s f o r A u s t r a l i a -

a ma j o r r e s p o n s i b i l i t y of t h e Embassy - woul d be h a n d l e d

i n Damascus and o t h e r p o s t s as n e c e s s a r y .

The M i n i s t e r n ot e d t h a t A u s t r a l i a n c i t i z e n s ' h a d

been war ned of t h e s e r i o u s s i t u a t i o n whi ch now e x i s t e d i n

Le b a n o n . Un l e s s t h e y had good r e as on t o r e m a i n / . t h e y t s h o u l d

c o n s i d e r l e a v i n g t h e c o u n t r y .

The M i n i s t e r e x p r e s s e d t h e e a r n e s t hope t h a t t h e r e

woul d be s u b s t a n t i a l i mpr ovement i n t h e s e c u r i t y s i t u a t i o n

i n B e i r u t a t t h e s oo ne s t p o s s i b l e t i me whi ch woul d a l l o w

t h e r e - o p e n i n g o f t h e A u s t r a l i a n Embassy t h e r e . ;