Opportunity and Peril

Beirut's crisis could lead to the solution of a larger Middle East problem

Physically, emotionally and politically they made a diplomatic odd couple. Towering Prince Saud al Faisal, elegantly attired in thobe and ghitrah, represented with cool reserve the oil-rich monarchy of Saudi Arabia; Abdel Halim Khaddam, a diminutive figure in an ill-fitting business suit, spoke excitedly and volubly for hard-line Syria, backed by the Soviet Union. Nonetheless, as Arab Foreign Ministers they found themselves calling together at the State Department and the Oval Office last week.

Their visit symbolized a rare diplomatic opportunity that the U.S. has not so much acquired as...