The Lebanese people are ready for a "historic compromise" that would end the downward spiral of that strife-ridden country, Lebanese President Amin Gemayel said today.
Various factions of Moslems and Christians are now talking to each other, he said in an interview. "The militias are tired after 10 years of war. They are naturally and spontaneously ready for compromise."
Despite the unusually optimistic assessment of his country's future, Gemayel, who was here for the 40th anniversary session of the United Nations, held out little hope that his government could assist in the extradition of three Arabs sought by Washington in the Trans World Airlines hijacking in June.
"Our courts can order an arrest," he said. "But unfortunately the suspects are in an area not under government authority, and the order cannot be implemented."
Nor was he hopeful for an imminent release of U.S. hostages held by militant groups. "These factions are out of control," he said. "Nobody could tell you where they are."
Addressing the General Assembly today, Gemayel spoke of the Lebanese "defiance of the awesome forces of disintegration." He said, "I can confirm that the Lebanese have now reached a consensus on those matters over which they disagreed in the past."
While asserting that "the domestic aspect of the Lebanese question is almost resolved," he deplored delays in full Israeli withdrawal from southern Lebanon and underscored the "important role" of Syria in achieving Lebanon's national reconciliation.
In the interview, Gemayel said the United States still has a role to play in Lebanon, for cultural, economic and strategic reasons, and "cannot disengage morally."
Gemayel said he would discuss with U.N. and U.S. officials the possibility of extending the U.N. peace-keeping force to Israel's border.
Reuter reported from Beirut that the Moscow Narodny Bank said it will suspend its activities in Lebanon indefinitely.