With 'smokescreen' of UN veto in place, French set to leave Beirut

Britain is expected to revive a United Nations effort to send a peace force to Beirut, despite Wednesday's veto of a similar French proposal by the Soviet Union.

The French proposal failed because of little progress in resolving differences between the various Lebanese factions, and because the United States , Syria, Israel, and the Soviet Union failed to reach even an informal understanding on Lebanon's future, UN diplomats say.

Also, no country appeared eager to volunteer troops to a new force, even though 13 nations on the 15-member UN Security Council voted in favor of the project.

''Nobody wanted to vote against motherhood,'' one council member commented.

Such troops would take over the role of the multinational force in Beirut. That force now only consists of French troops after the pullout of US, British, and Italian forces, although the French are reportedly planning to pull their forces out soon.

''French haste to bring things to a head confirmed to many people that the French initiative was self-serving and prompted more by domestic considerations than by concern for Lebanon,'' says one council member who voted for the proposal.

''France was under pressure to bring its troops home but wanted to distance itself from the US in its withdrawal as it had insisted on distancing itself from the US in deployment. Thus, while the US tried to mask the withdrawal of the Marines behind a show of strength - namely shelling Syrian positions by the US Sixth Fleet - the French wanted to conceal their own withdrawal behind a smokescreen of peacemaking efforts at the UN,'' he added.

The Soviets opposed the project mainly because it did not specifically prohibit renewed shelling of Lebanon by US warships. France was unable to move the US to make a concession on that score.

''Since all the members of the council agree in principle of the need for a UN force, a new effort initiated by other countries, such as Britain, and carried out in good faith and with patience could well succeed in the future,'' says one well-placed analyst.

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