Advertisement

The Reagan administration, hoping to avert further kidnappings in...

By MATTHEW C. QUINN

WASHINGTON -- The Reagan administration, hoping to avert further kidnappings in Beirut, is considering more steps to force Americans out of Lebanon, State Department officials said Monday.

The White House issued a stern warning to U.S. citizens to leave the war-torn country, the latest in a series of admonitions in the past decade.

Advertisement

But officials said there have always been some Americans who refuse to acknowledge they too could be victims of the random terrorism. 'There are some people who refuse to take our advice,' one State Department official said.

The State Department now is considering further measures, officials said, but no final decisions have been made or were expected Monday.

Secretary of State George Shultz is scheduled to testify before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Tuesday and could discuss the matter.

Among the options under consideration, officials said, are invalidating U.S. passports for travel to Lebanon and forbidding Americans to spend money there. Both could be done under existing authority of the president and secretary of state.

Advertisement

'We're taking a look at moving beyond jawboning and taking steps such as economic restrictions or making passports invalid for travel to Lebanon,' one official said.

Another official said the passport restriction is more likely because an economic prohibition would be difficult to enforce in such a chaotic situation.

President Reagan, acting under emergency economic powers, last year forbade Americans from spending money in Libya, as the administration stepped up the pressure on Moammar Gadhafi's government to stop supporting international terrorism. A total of 28 foreigners, including eight Americans, are reported missing in Lebanon and believed kidnapped. These include three Americans and an Indian, all professors at Beirut University College, who were abducted Saturday. In addition, two men believed to be foreigners were reported kidnapped in West Beirut Monday.

White House spokesman Larry Speakes issued a statement noting repeated warnings to Americans about the 'extremely dangerous' situation in Lebanon. It noted last Tuesday's State Department warning and said, 'Americans who ignored this warning clearly did so at their own risk and on their own responsibility.'

The State Department has had a travel advisory in effect for Lebanon since 1975.

The U.S. government has evacuated Americans three times from that country since 1975: at the start of the civil war in 1975, following the June 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon and in February 1984 following the militia takeover of West Beirut.

Advertisement

In April 1986, Americans known to still be in Beirut were contacted individually and urged to leave. Ten Americans agreed to leave, were taken out of West Beirut in a convoy and out of the country by boat.

But some Americans still refuse to listen, an official said.

'Usually what they say is they have such firm roots in Lebanon, are married to nationals or feel the work they are doing is so important they should stay,' he said. 'We have been telling them that in spite of whatever guarantees you think you have, it doesn't necessarily mean anything to kidnappers.'

Officials declined to say how many Americans remain in Lebanon, out of fear of giving terrorists information that could lead to more abductions.

The U.S. Embassy is operating in East Beirut under extraordinary security and with a bare-bones staff that includes Ambassador John Kelly, who is single.

Travel advisories are also in effect for Iran, Libya and Afghanistan.

Latest Headlines

Advertisement
Advertisement

Follow Us

Advertisement