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Four peacekeeping nations say they'll stay in Lebanon

The foreign ministers of the US, France, Britain and Italy Thursday reaffirmed their nations' peacekeeping forces would remain in Beirut despite recent violence.

But Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Andreotti said his country would like to halve its 2,200-man force. The officials conferred before a meeting of NATO foreign ministers expected to be dominated by the search for ways to improve East-West dialogue.

Mr. Andreotti said that Italy's initial agreement was to provide 1,100 men for the multinational force and that his country would like to get back down to that number from its current 2,200. He said Italy would reduce its contingent only if it did not upset the Geneva reconciliation negotiations.

The peacekeeping nations supported Sunday's US air raid on Syrian positions in Lebanon and claimed the right to take the same kind of action, officials said.

Meanwhile in Beirut, US marines countered a series of attacks on their positions at Beirut airport. A Marine spokesman said the marines destroyed a fortified position with tank fire and antitank missiles.

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