Israel mediates new pact between Lebanon militias

Rival Christian and Druze militiamen agreed to disarm in the mountains east of Beirut, to exchange prisoners, and to end four months of bloody clashes, the Israeli Army said.

The announcement came hours after Druze militiamen captured the strategic town of Aleih. The peace pact is not the first in the area, but it was signed under Israeli auspices and seems to signal an increase in the Israeli Army role as policeman in Lebanon's sectarian strife.

Meanwhile there is widespread concern that Israel will retain permanent influence over southern Lebanon (see Page 1). But a high Egyptian official in Cairo said he expects agreement on an Israeli withdrawal this month, because the US has committed itself to a more positive role in Mideast peacemaking.

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