Thursday, August 24, 2006

United States Offers Emergency Aid to Clean Up Lebanon Oil Spill

US Department of State
Media Note
Office of the Spokesman
Washington, DC
August 24, 2006

On Monday, President Bush pledged the U.S. government would "assist with the cleanup of the Jieh oil spill and the resulting pollution, in order to restore livelihoods and protect people's health in coastal communities." See White House fact sheet, "United States Humanitarian, Reconstruction, and Security Assistance to Lebanon," describing the broad scope of United States efforts to help the Lebanese, at

The initiative will include a U.S. team of oil response professionals coordinating with the Lebanese government to clean a high priority site in Lebanon, train clean-up crews, and provide the necessary equipment. It will also provide assistance in shoreline cleanup by implementing programs to revitalize livelihoods of coastal community. This aid will help coastal people who have lost their livelihoods due to the spill.

This action response was developed by an interagency team, led by the Department’s Bureau of Oceans, Environment, and Science, with expertise contributed by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Coast Guard, Environmental Protection Agency, and USAID.

This effort has been closely coordinated between Claudia A. McMurray, Assistant Secretary for Oceans, Environment, and Science, and Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and Executive Director of the UN Environment Program (UNEP). Mr. Steiner was pleased with the announcement, saying: "We welcome this valuable assistance from the United States as a further important contribution by the international community for helping to restore the environment and livelihoods of the Lebanese people."

Working with Lebanese and participating international aid organizations, the team will develop a wildlife protection plan, spill response and remediation action plans based on shoreline and aerial survey results to restore the coastal environment, protect shipping, and preserve sensitive habitats. This project should also ensure Lebanese civil and armed forces are trained and prepared to remediate fully the environmental impact of this spill over the long term and be able to respond directly to future spills.

Secretary Condoleezza Rice: A Path to Lasting Peace

The Washington Post
August 16, 2006

For the past month the United States has worked urgently to end the violence that Hezbollah and its sponsors have imposed on the people of Lebanon and Israel. At the same time, we have insisted that a truly effective cease-fire requires a decisive change from the status quo that produced this war. Last Friday we took an important step toward that goal with the unanimous passage of U.N. Resolution 1701. Now the difficult, critical task of implementation begins.

The agreement we reached has three essential components:

First, it puts in place a full cessation of hostilities. We also insisted on the unconditional release of the abducted Israeli soldiers. Hezbollah must immediately cease its attacks on Israel, and Israel must halt its offensive military operations in Lebanon, while reserving the right of any sovereign state to defend itself. This agreement went into effect on Monday, after the Israeli and Lebanese cabinets agreed to its conditions.

Second, this resolution will help the democratic government of Lebanon expand its sovereign authority. The international community is imposing an embargo on all weapons heading into Lebanon without the government's consent. We are also enhancing UNIFIL, the current U.N. force in Lebanon. The new UNIFIL will have a robust mandate, better equipment and as many as 15,000 soldiers -- a sevenfold increase from its current strength. Together with this new international force, the Lebanese Armed Forces will deploy to the south of the country to protect the Lebanese people and prevent armed groups such as Hezbollah from destabilizing the area. As this deployment occurs, Israel will withdraw behind the "Blue Line" and a permanent cease-fire will take hold.

Finally, this resolution clearly lays out the political principles to secure a lasting peace: no foreign forces, no weapons and no authority in Lebanon other than that of the sovereign Lebanese government. These principles represent a long-standing international consensus that has been affirmed and reaffirmed for decades -- but never fully implemented. Now, for the first time, the international community has put its full weight behind a practical political framework to help the Lebanese government realize these principles, including the disarmament of all militias operating on its territory.

The implementation of Resolution 1701 will not only benefit Lebanon and Israel; it also has important regional implications. Simply put: This is a victory for all who are committed to moderation and democracy in the Middle East -- and a defeat for those who wish to undermine these principles with violence, particularly the governments of Syria and Iran.

While the entire world has spent the past month working for peace, the Syrian and Iranian regimes have sought to prolong and intensify the war that Hezbollah started. The last time this happened, 10 years ago, the United States brokered a cease-fire between Israel and Syria. The game of diplomacy was played by others, over the heads of the Lebanese. Now Syria no longer occupies Lebanon, and the international community is helping the Lebanese government create the conditions of lasting peace -- full independence, complete sovereignty, effective democracy and a weakened Hezbollah with fewer opportunities to rearm and regroup. Once implemented, this will be a strategic setback for the Syrian and Iranian regimes.

The agreement we reached last week is a good first step, but it is only a first step. Though we hope that it will lead to a permanent cease-fire, no one should expect an immediate stop to all acts of violence. This is a fragile cease-fire, and all parties must work to strengthen it. Our diplomacy has helped end a war. Now comes the long, hard work to secure the peace.

Looking ahead, our most pressing challenge is to help the hundreds of thousands of displaced people within Lebanon to return to their homes and rebuild their lives. This reconstruction effort will be led by the government of Lebanon, but it will demand the generosity of the entire world.

For our part, the United States is helping to lead relief efforts for the people of Lebanon, and we will fully support them as they rebuild their country. As a first step, we have increased our immediate humanitarian assistance to $50 million. To secure the gains of peace, the Lebanese people must emerge from this conflict with more opportunities and greater prosperity.

Already, we hear Hezbollah trying to claim victory. But others, in Lebanon and across the region, are asking themselves what Hezbollah's extremism has really achieved: hundreds of thousands of people displaced from their homes. Houses and infrastructure destroyed. Hundreds of innocent lives lost. The blame of the world for causing this war.

Innocent people in Lebanon, in Israel and across the Middle East have suffered long enough at the hands of extremists. It is time to overcome old patterns of violence and secure a just, lasting and comprehensive peace. This is our goal, and now we have laid out the steps to achieve it. Our policy is ambitious, yes, and difficult to achieve. But it is right. It is realistic. And ultimately, it is the only effective path to a more hopeful future.

Released on August 16, 2006

US Humanitarian Assistance to Lebanon


"America is making a long-term commitment to help the people of Lebanon because we believe every person deserves to live in a free, open society that respects the rights of all. "

- President Bush

Unloaded blankets at port in Beirut
HSV Swift from the side
Med kits being unloaded
Blankets being unloaded

The United States has a great deal of concern for the innocent civilian populations on both sides of the border who need humanitarian aid. On August 21, President Bush announced over $230 million in humanitarian reconstruction and security assistance to Lebanon. The aim of this assistance is to strengthen Lebanon's sovereign, democratic government, help the Lebanese people rebuild, and ensure a lasting peace. (Read entire announcement...)

To meet the most urgent needs, the United States has deployed a Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) led by USAID to determine priorities and humanitarian needs. Since Juy 25, the U.S. has committed over $25 million of the $50 million pledged for such high priority items as food, water, sanitation, emergency relief supplies, and shelter.

08/23/06 - Situation Report #26 (PDF - 106kb)
08/23/06 - Map (PDF - 953kb)

Total USG Humanitarian Assistance Committed to Lebanon: $36,785,640
Total USG Humanitarian and Reconstruction Assistance Pledged to Lebanon: $230,000,000


Interagency assessment teams have concluded that humanitarian intervention is not urgently required in the Bekaa Valley, as most remaining needs are related to recovery and reconstruction. According to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), existing municipal response systems are effective and have provided generous, appropriate, timely, and comprehensive support to displaced residents. However, OCHA noted that regular monitoring and follow-up are necessary to ensure that special cases receive adequate treatment and further aid distribution as required. OCHA recommended repairs to roads and bridges, water and sewage facilities, health facilities, schools, and homes, as well as restocking of health facilities and the provision of health and sanitation kits.

According to assessments, the conflict has severely undermined livelihoods through the destruction of factories and petrol stations, damage to crops, and deaths of livestock. USG partners, including Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and Mercy Corps, are currently preparing to help families rebuild their livelihoods through cash-for-work opportunities for unskilled labor needs, support for vocational training for return-related skills such as carpentry and masonry, and livelihood assistance to enable vulnerable families to purchase small equipment or materials to restart livelihood activities, such as agricultural tools for farmers, sewing machines for seamstresses, and ovens for bakeries.


Map of Cyprus, Lebanon and Israel

As of August 23, the GOL Higher Relief Council (HRC) reports that 1,183 Lebanese have been killed and approximately 4,059 injured. More than 980,000 Lebanese fled their homes at the height of emergency, but the HRC estimates that 718,000 displaced persons have returned to their home areas since August 14. According to the HRC, 256,184 residents remain displaced. The HRC and U.N. agencies report that most collective centers are now empty, and the majority of remaining internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees are staying with host families.


  • As of August 23, the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimated that 156,000 refugees had returned from Syria, largely through UNHCR-monitored crossings. UNHCR teams are scheduled to remain on the border with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent until approximately August 25.
  • The GOL estimates that 90 percent of IDPs, most of whom were staying in and around Beirut, have returned home. However, thousands have not returned or have returned to find their homes uninhabitable or living conditions impossible, according to OCHA. UNHCR reports that, until there is progress in rebuilding, the remaining displaced population may stay with host families in home areas or other towns and villages.

    Damage Assessments

  • On August 22, OCHA reported that a multi-cluster assessment mission traveled to Kfar Kila and Deir Mimess, both located southeast of Nabatiye. According to the assessment team, damage to the public water supply infrastructure and electricity outages have decreased the amount of potable water available. In Deir Mimess, only 200 of the original 3,600 inhabitants have returned, no food or water is available, and fields reportedly contain numerous unexploded ordnance (UXO) from cluster bombs, preventing local farmers from returning to their fields. In Kfar Kila, an estimated 90 percent of the original population of 13,000 has now returned. The housing sector sustained minimal damage, with 10 houses destroyed and 107 damaged. Although no electricity is available, limited amounts of water and medicine are available and fresh fruit and vegetables have begun to reappear in the local market. The assessment team also found extensive destruction in the village of Ghanduriyah, south of Nabatiye, and reports that further assessment is required.
  • According to OCHA, the conflict destroyed 50 to 90 percent of government and public buildings in 39 villages in Bent Jbail District; villages in Marjayoun District experienced similar levels of destruction. In Nabatiye District, U.N. assessment teams reported that 50 percent of structures in Yohmor and Western Zawtar villages were destroyed; in other district villages, the conflict led to the destruction of 10 to 15 percent of structures.

    Early Recovery

  • With USG support, on August 23, a Mercy Corps national partner began a cash-for-work project aimed at filling and repaving three large craters in the Jezzine–Nabatiye road. The repairs will shorten travel time and make adjacent villages more accessible.
  • On August 21, the U.N. Development Program (UNDP) met with mayors of 40 villages from municipalities in Bent Jbail and Tyre districts to sign contracts for projects to clear rubble, fill potholes, and complete repair work on buildings. UNDP has also met with mayors from villages in Marjayoun and Nabatiye and aims to expand the small project initiative to other locations, including Baalbek. According to OCHA, local communities will complete the projects, which range in value from $5,000 to $25,000, for a total of up to $800,000.

    Health and Nutrition

  • The U.N. Population Fund (UNFPA) has dispatched emergency reproductive health kits—including surgical equipment, essential drugs, and safe blood transfusion units—to Lebanon, according to OCHA. The shipment covers the needs of approximately 120,000 persons for three months. In addition, UNFPA has provided 4,000 hygiene kits to the GOL Ministry of Social Affairs for distribution by local non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
  • According to OCHA, UNFPA is working to establish a coordination committee for the Baalbek area, similar to those established for Zahle and West Bekaa, to assess damage to health facilities.


  • The Lebanese Ministry of Finance is finalizing customs clearance procedures for U.N. agencies and NGOs, according to OCHA. Although the U.N. World Food Program (WFP) can complete customs clearance on WFP-chartered transport, U.N. agencies must go through the HRC, and NGOs must contact the GOL Ministry of Social Affairs.

    Food and Emergency Relief Supplies

  • According to the USG Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART), WFP reported one International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and one WFP food assistance mission were rejected by communities in the south during the week of August 14. In addition, WFP noted that cash is being disbursed in the south to those who lost homes and questioned whether these two events were an indication that food assistance is no longer needed in Lebanon. However, assessments in South Lebanon and the Bekaa Valley indicate food aid is still needed in some areas, according to a number of NGOs and the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA). Agencies caution that food assistance must be targeted to avoid excesses.
  • WFP reports that municipalities are the best distribution mechanism, according to the DART. WFP noted that NGOs can add value by monitoring distributions to ensure transparency and fairness. However, one NGO expressed concern that this role could create tensions between NGOs and the municipality, which could hinder long-term activities.
  • In response to requests from local authorities, UNHCR is preparing emergency shelter repair kits that include plastic sheeting, plywood, corrugated metal sheets, and wood, as well as hammers, nails, and shovels, according to OCHA.
  • On August 21, a shipment of UNHCR relief items arrived in Tyre, including 1,000 mattresses, 2,000 blankets, 100 tents, 100 boxes of soap, 500 diapers, and plastic sheeting. In addition, in Ayta Ash Shaab, UNHCR has distributed 20 tents, 4,125 blankets and 2,500 mattresses to date.
  • On August 23, the U.N. dispatched five U.N. convoys carrying food, water, and other relief supplies to Tyre, Marjayoun, Deir Mimess, and south Beirut as well as a convoy from Damascus to Beirut, according to OCHA.
  • On August 23, the U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) distributed 29,500 liters of drinking water to the villages of Khiam, Ett Taibe, and Ebel Es Saqy.


  • On August 22, the DART attended the child protection sub-cluster meeting, chaired by the U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF). Other attendees included the Ministry of Social Affairs, the newly-appointed National Director for Mental Health, and international and local NGOs. Most of the organizations have begun but not yet completed needs assessments in affected areas.
  • UNICEF estimated that 20 percent of the schools along the Lebanon–Israel border have been destroyed, and 80 percent need some rehabilitation before the school year begins on October 9. In some areas, however, the lack of a common assessment tool has resulted in redundant assessments.
  • Based on initial assessments in southern Lebanon, UNICEF staff offered some early recommendations: develop a common assessment tool; expand protection programs to include teenagers and parents; include livelihoods support for families; provide culturally-sensitive assistance, such as halal meat; train local people to provide counseling; establish women and youth committees where none existed; and create protection programs on a national scale.
  • According to OCHA, the GOL Ministry of Justice and the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime have launched a human trafficking awareness campaign targeting foreign domestic workers in Lebanon. Awareness materials have been distributed to expatriate workers in Sinhalese, Amharic, Tamil, and English. As of August 21, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) has evacuated nearly 12,600 third country nationals from Lebanon.

    UXO and Landmines

  • The Mine Action Coordination Center in Southern Lebanon (MACC-SL), under the U.N. Mine Action Services (UNMAS), continues to update a map of cluster bomb sites and passable roads in Southern Lebanon.
  • On August 22 and 23, a team from MACC-SL undertook controlled demolitions of UXOs collected near the villages of Yohmor (Nabatiye), Sammaaiye (Tyre), Ras Al Ain (Zahle), Tebnin, and Ayta Ash Shaab (Bent Jbail) in southern Lebanon.


  • On July 25, U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon Jeffrey Feltman declared a humanitarian emergency in Lebanon due to ongoing insecurity and humanitarian needs. U.S. President George W. Bush has authorized $230 million in USG humanitarian and reconstruction assistance for persons affected by conflict in Lebanon.
  • On July 23, a USG DART, led by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), arrived in the region to prioritize USG assistance. A Washington, D.C.-based Response Management Team is supporting the DART.
  • USAID’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA), via U.S. military and ICRC transport, has provided 1,000 tarps, 20,000 blankets, and 18 emergency health kits in support of relief operations in Lebanon. The DART has consigned these relief supplies to ICRC, the U.N. World Health Program (WHO), International Medical Corps (IMC), and Mercy Corps for delivery to approximately 235,000 beneficiaries in Beirut and southern Lebanon.
  • USAID/OFDA has provided $7 million to support the U.N. Flash Appeal for Lebanon to WFP and the U.N. Joint Logistics Center (UNJLC) for logistics and coordination, UNICEF for water and sanitation activities, and OCHA and OCHA’s Humanitarian Information Center (HIC) for coordination and information management. The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau for Population, Refugees, and Migration (State/PRM) has provided $5 million to the U.N. Flash Appeal to support UNHCR, UNRWA, and IOM.
  • USAID/OFDA has provided $9.4 million to Mercy Corps, CRS, IMC, and World Vision for water and sanitation services, health services, psychosocial support, emergency shelter activities, and the distribution of food and relief supplies. USAID/OFDA has also provided $25,916 to Church World Service (CWS) for security training for relief NGOs. State/PRM has contributed $5 million to ICRC’s emergency appeal for Lebanon.
  • USAID/OFDA has released an Annual Program Statement (APS) soliciting proposals to address emergency needs in Lebanon. The APS is available at
  • USAID’s Office of Food for Peace (USAID/FFP) is providing 1,000 metric tons (MT) of P.L. 480 Title II emergency food assistance, valued at nearly $625,000, in support of WFP operations in Lebanon.
  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has provided 25,000 MT of hard red winter wheat to the Government of Lebanon for food security and agricultural development. Valued at $9.2 million including transport, the wheat contribution is part of USDA’s Food for Progress program.
  • In addition to evacuating nearly 15,000 American citizens, the U.S. Military has been integral in providing transport to Beirut for both the DART and USAID emergency relief supplies.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

United States Emergency Aid to Lebanon to Clear Explosive Remnants of War

US Department of State
Media Note
Office of the Spokesman
Washington, DC
August 23, 2006

The Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs is quickly expanding its nearly decade-long landmine and unexploded ordnance (UXO) humanitarian clearance program in Lebanon in order to help remove the newest explosive remnants of war that endanger the Lebanese who are returning to their homes in the southern part of the country.

Subject to Congressional approval, the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement will provide shortly an initial emergency grant of $420,000 to MAG (Mines Advisory Group), a non-governmental organization that specializes in clearing explosive remnants of war, such as unexploded aerial bombs, cluster munitions, rocket propelled grenades, artillery shells, persistent landmines, abandoned ordnance, and any other hazardous detritus of battle that may affect Nabatiyeh, Jezzine, and Hasbya where some of the fiercest fighting between Israeli forces and Hezbollah occurred. This Office has already increased its ongoing support to the United Nations Joint Logistics Center explosive remnants of war data collection and mapping capability in Lebanon, through its partnership with the Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation, a non-governmental organization with extensive experience in surveys of landmine and UXO infestation worldwide. The Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement will reallocate up to $2 million more to continue clearing explosive remnants of war in Lebanon in fiscal year 2007, which begins on October 1, 2006, also subject to Congressional approval.

Between 1998 and until the present conflict took place, the inter-agency U.S. Humanitarian Mine Action Program invested over $17 million dollars to help rid Lebanon of landmines and UXO left from previous conflicts, enable Lebanon’s National Demining Office to initiate a national survey of explosive remnants of war and develop a rational plan for prioritizing clearance of them, supply the Lebanese Armed Forces with the best training and equipment to clear mines and UXO on land and in littoral waters, including mine detecting dogs and training for their Lebanese handlers, teach mine risk education, and render assistance to survivors of mine and UXO accidents. Please refer to the 6th Edition of "To Walk the Earth in Safety" at for more comprehensive information about United States assistance to Lebanon in this regard.

A White House fact sheet, "United States Humanitarian, Reconstruction, and Security Assistance to Lebanon," describing the broad scope of United States efforts to help the Lebanese, may be downloaded at Information about the U.S. Department of State’s programs to clean up landmines and other remnants of war worldwide is available at

Monday, August 21, 2006

President Bush Pledges $230 Million in U.S. Aid to Lebanon

By Stephen Kaufman
White House Correspondent
August 21, 2006

Washington -- President Bush pledges the United States will increase its humanitarian and reconstruction aid to Lebanon to $230 million to help the country recover after weeks of fighting between Israel and Hezbollah.

Speaking at the White House August 21, Bush said the funds would help the Lebanese people return to their communities and rebuild their homes, restore infrastructure such as bridges and roads and rehabilitate schools in time for the beginning of the fall school year.

“Our nation is wasting no time in helping the people of Lebanon,” he said.  “America is making a long-term commitment to help the people of Lebanon because we believe every person … deserves to live in a free, open society that respects the rights of all.”

More than half of the $50 million in U.S. aid committed since the outbreak of Israel-Hezbollah hostilities has been distributed to the Lebanese people, Bush said, adding that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has “led the diplomatic efforts” to establish humanitarian corridors, reopen Beirut's airport, and ensure a steady fuel supply to the country's power plants and automobiles for the facilitation of relief convoys and the transport of humanitarian aid.

The president also said 25,000 tons of U.S. wheat will be delivered to Lebanon in the coming weeks, and an oil spill response team is being sent to help the Lebanese government clean up an oil slick that is endangering communities along the Lebanese coast.

Other proposed U.S. assistance includes a $42 million package to help train and equip Lebanon's armed forces, and an upcoming presidential delegation of private-sector leaders that will visit the country to identify ways in which American businesses and nonprofit organizations can help. (See related fact sheet .)

The funds will be drawn from existing State Department resources, according to U.S. government sources.

For Israel, whose infrastructure was damaged by Hezbollah rocket attacks, the president said he would work with the U.S. Congress to extend the availability of loan guarantees to provide funds for rebuilding.

President Bush also urged the rapid deployment of an international force, as called for by U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701, which he said is “essential to peace in the region” and to Lebanese freedom. He said the international force is needed to maintain the cease-fire and prevent Hezbollah from re-establishing itself as “a state within a state.” 

“The need is urgent. The international community must now designate the leadership of this new international force, give it robust rules of engagement and deploy it as quickly as possible to secure the peace,” Bush said.

The United States, although not contributing troops to the 15,000-member force, will help with “logistic support, command and control, communications and intelligence.”  Bush also said his administration will work with the force's leadership after it is established to ensure United States is doing all it can “to make this mission a success.”

He added that the United States is working with its international partners to organize and deploy the force. Citing France's understanding of regional issues and historical ties with Lebanon, Bush said he hopes France will contribute more troops.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

President Bush and Secretary of State Rice Discuss the Middle East Crisis

The White House, President George W. Bush

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
August 7, 2006

President Bush and Secretary of State Rice Discuss the Middle East Crisis
Prairie Chapel Ranch
Crawford, Texas

     listen Audio
     Fact sheet In Focus: The Road Map to Peace

8:59 A.M. CDT

THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. Since the crisis in Lebanon began more than three weeks ago, the United States and other key nations have been working for a comprehensive solution that would return control of Lebanon to its government, and to provide a sustainable peace that protects the lives of both the Lebanese and the Israeli people.

President George W. Bush is joined by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as he delivers a statement Monday, Aug. 7, 2006, on the Middle East crisis during a news conference in Crawford, Texas.  Secretary Rice and diplomats from other countries are developing United Nations resolutions to bring about a cessation of hostilities and establish a foundation for lasting peace.

The first resolution, which the Security Council is now considering, calls for a stop of all hostilities. Under its terms, Hezbollah will be required to immediately stop all attacks. Israel will be required to immediately stop all offensive military operations. In addition, the resolution calls for an embargo on the shipment of any arms into Lebanon, except as authorized by the Lebanese government.

A second resolution, which the Security Council will begin working on as soon as possible, will help establish a sustainable and enduring cease-fire and provide a mandate for a robust international force that will help the legitimate government of Lebanon extend it's authority over all of Lebanon's territory.

Under this second resolution, the Lebanese armed forces, supported by the international force, will deploy to southern Lebanon. This international force will help Lebanon patrol its border with Syria and prevent illegal arm shipments to Hezbollah. As these Lebanese and international forces deploy, the Israeli defense forces will withdraw. And both Israel and Lebanon will respect the blue line that divides them.

These two resolutions are designed to bring an immediate end to the fighting, to help restore sovereignty over Lebanese soil to Lebanese democratic government -- to Lebanon's democratic government, excuse me -- to strike a blow against the terrorists and their supporters, and to help bring lasting peace to the region. By taking these steps, it will prevent armed militias like Hezbollah and its Iranian and Syrian sponsors from sparking another crisis. And it will protect innocent Lebanese and Israelis. And it will help the international community deliver humanitarian relief and support Lebanon's revival and reconstruction.

The loss of life on both sides of the Lebanese-Israeli border has been a great tragedy. Millions of Lebanese civilians have been caught in the crossfire of military operations because of the unprovoked attack and kidnappings by Hezbollah. The humanitarian crisis in Lebanon is of deep concern to all Americans, and alleviating it will remain a priority of my government.

I also believe that innocent civilians in Israel should not have to live in bunkers in fear of missile attacks. To establish a lasting peace that protects innocent civilians on both sides of the border, we must address the underlying conditions that are the root cause of this crisis.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice answers questions on the Middle East during a news conference with President George W. Bush Monday, Aug. 7, 2006, in Crawford, Texas.  White House photo by Eric Draper I believe that the two resolutions I have discussed and that Secretary Rice is working on will put us on that path.

And now I'll be glad to answer some questions. Nedra.

Q Thank you, Mr. President. Lebanon has rejected the draft proposal, and Israel is not speaking out in support of it. How do you get a resolution that both sides will support?

THE PRESIDENT: Everyone wants the violence to stop. People understand that there needs to be a cessation of hostilities in order for us to address the root causes of the problem. That was the spirit that came out of the G8 conference. It came out of the Rome conference that Secretary Rice attended. We all recognize that the violence must stop. And so that's what Secretary Rice is working toward with our friends and allies.

Look, everybody is -- I understand both parties aren't going to agree with all aspects of the resolution. But the intent of the resolutions is to strengthen the Lebanese government so Israel has got a partner in peace. The intent of the resolution is to make sure that we address the root cause -- the resolution is to address the root cause, which was a state operating within the state. Hezbollah was -- or is an armed movement that provoked the crisis.

And so whatever comes out of the resolutions must address that root cause. And so the task today for the Secretary and her counterparts is to develop a resolution that can get passed. It is essential that we create the conditions for the Lebanese government to move their own forces, with international help, into the south of Lebanon to prevent Hezbollah and its sponsors from creating this -- creating another crisis. And so that's where we're headed.


Q The Lebanese Prime Minister is demanding a quick and decisive cease-fire. An Israeli air raid today killed 40 people. When will we see this resolution? And if it's approved, when will we see a cessation of violence?

THE PRESIDENT: I'll let Condi talk about the details of what she's going to do today, if you care to hear from her. But we will work with our partners to get the resolution laid down as quickly as possible. And the resolution will call for a cessation of violence. And the concern, by the way, from the parties in the region is whether or not the resolution will create a vacuum into which Hezbollah and its sponsors will be able to promote more instability.

President George W. Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice take questions during a news conference Monday, Aug. 7, 2006, in Crawford, Texas. White House photo by Eric Draper We all agree that we ought to strengthen this government, the Lebanese government -- that's the purpose of the resolutions, as well as to stop the violence.

I don't know if you want to comment upon --

SECRETARY RICE: First of all, we are working from what we believe to be a strong basis for a cessation of hostilities, that is the U.S.-French draft, a strong basis for the cessation of hostilities, and then as the President said, to have a process then that can address the root causes. And we also believe that it's going to be very important that this first resolution lay a very quick foundation for passage of a second resolution. So these have to be worked, in a sense, together.

I spoke last night and yesterday with Prime Minister Olmert, with Prime Minister Siniora, with Secretary General Kofi Annan, with a number of others, and I think we believe that there is a way forward.

Now, we understand that this has been a very emotional and, indeed, devastating and tragic set of circumstances for Lebanon and for Israel. And obviously, the parties have views on how to stop this. Their views are not going to necessarily be consonant about how to stop it. The international community has a view. But, of course, we're going to take a little time and listen to the concerns of the parties and see how they can be addressed.

But I want to just note, we believe that the extant draft resolution is a firm foundation, is the right basis, but, of course, we're going to listen to the concerns of the parties and see how they might be addressed. And that's really what's going to be going on today, particularly after the Arab League meets and Prime Minister Siniora emerges from that.


Q Thanks. Mr. President, officials have been quoted saying that the international force would not include U.S. troops. And I wonder if you can explain why that is? Is it because the military is already over-tasked? Is it because you're afraid that the U.S. doesn't have credibility in the region?

THE PRESIDENT: No, I think -- first of all, there has been a history in Lebanon with U.S. troops. Secondly, I have said that if the international force would like some help with logistics and command and control, we'd be willing to offer logistics and command and control. There are some places where -- it's like Darfur, people say to me, why don't you commit U.S. troops to Darfur as part of an international peacekeeping. And the answer there is that those troops would be -- would create a sensation around the world that may not enable us to achieve our objective. And so when we commit troops, we commit troops for a specific reason, with the intent of achieving an objective. And I think command and control and logistical support is probably the best -- is the best use of U.S. forces.

Mike Fletcher.

Q Many strategists say that we'll never get to the bottom of this crisis unless the U.S. engages directly with Syria and Iran. Why not talk to them directly about this, and have a back-and-forth conversation?

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, that's an interesting question. I've been reading about that, that people have been posing that question. We have been in touch with Syria. Colin Powell sent a message to Syria in person. Dick Armitage traveled to Syria. Bill Burns traveled to Syria. We've got a consulate office in Syria. Syria knows what we think. The problem isn't us telling Syria what's on our mind, which is to stop harboring terror and to help the Iraqi democracy evolve. They know exactly what our position is. The problem is, is that their response hasn't been very positive. As a matter of fact, it hasn't been positive at all.

And in terms of Iran, we made it clear to the Iranians that if they would honor previous obligations and verifiably stop enrichment of nuclear materials, we would sit at a table. And so there's a way forward for both countries. The choice is theirs. Now, I appreciate people focusing on Syria and Iran, and we should, because Syria and Iran sponsor and promote Hezbollah activities -- all aimed at creating chaos, all aimed at using terror to stop the advance of democracies.

Our objective, our policy is to give voice to people through democratic reform. And that's why we strongly support the Siniora government. That's why I've articulated a two state solution between Israel and the Palestinians, two democracies living side-by-side in peace. That's why Condi went to see President Abbas, the President of the Palestinian Territories, to assure him that we're committed to a democracy. That's why we're making sacrifices in Iraq -- to build democracy.

In other words, we believe democracy yields peace. And the actions of Hezbollah through its sponsors of Iran and Syria are trying to stop that advance of democracy. Hezbollah launched this attack. Hezbollah is trying to create the chaos necessary to stop the advance of peace. And the world community must come together to address this problem.

Let's see here. Jim.

Q Mr. President, in the last couple of weeks, every time the question was asked why not get an immediate cessation and then build a sustainable -- terms for a sustainable cease-fire after you get the hostilities stopped, it was categorically rejected. Yet, a few weeks later, here we are. Can you explain why this wasn't done a couple weeks ago?

THE PRESIDENT: Sure. Because, first of all, the international community hadn't come together on a concept of how to address the root cause of the problem, Jim.

Part of the problem in the past in the Middle East is people would paper over the root cause of the problem, and therefore the situation would seemingly be quiet, and then lo and behold, there'd be another crisis. And innocent people would suffer. And so our strategy all along has been, of course we want to have a cessation of hostilities, but what we want to do in the same time is to make sure that there is a way forward for the Lebanese government to secure its own country so that there's peace in the region.

And that deals with an international peacekeeping force to complement a Lebanese army moving into the south to make sure that Resolution 1559, passed two years ago by the U.N., was fully upheld. Had the parties involved fully implemented 1559, which called for the disarmament of Hezbollah, we would not be in the situation we're in today.

Let's see here. Yes, Richard.

Q Mr. President, what are the specific stumbling blocks that are preventing this first resolution from being passed quickly? What are the people -- what are the parties objecting to in the language that needs to be altered?

SECRETARY RICE: I think that first of all, I don't -- I'm not going to get into specifics about the views of the parties. I think that we have to do that privately and talk with the parties privately. But obviously, this particular resolution is important because it sets an agenda for the basis for a sustainable peace. And so it will not surprise you that the Lebanese have views of what should be on that agenda. The Israelis have views of what should be on that agenda. They aren't always the same views, and so working together to get to what that agenda should be is part of what's going on here.

But I will say something that's very interesting. There is more agreement than you might think about how to prevent, again, a situation in which you have a state within a state able to launch an attack across the blue line.

For instance, there is agreement that the Lebanese government needs to extend its authority throughout the country, that it needs to have the Lebanese armed forces move to take care of this vacuum that has been existing in the south, that there should not be any armed groups able just to operate in the south in the way that Hezbollah has been able to operate in the south, that there ought to be respect for the blue line. These are all agreements between the two parties.

And so there is going to be some pressure from both sides to get things onto the agenda because they want to get them onto the agenda. But I think we have a reasonable basis here that both sides can accept. I think there are some issues of timing and sequence that need to be worked out. There are some concerns about when an international force would actually be available. And so we're going to continue to work to address those concerns of the two parties.

But as the President said, this last three weeks has been extremely important. Had we done this three weeks ago, we were talking about what people -- an unconditional cease-fire that I can guarantee you would not have addressed any of these items that both sides know are going to have to be addressed if we're going to have a sustainable cease-fire in the future. So this has been time that's been well spent over the last couple of weeks, that everybody agrees it's time to have a cessation. We're going to work a little bit more with the parties, and I think this resolution will be the right basis -- both to cease the hostilities and to move forward.


Q Mr. President, you've spoken with Prime Minister Blair and Chancellor Merkel about this. Have you spoken directly with Prime Ministers Olmert and Siniora? And if not, why not?

THE PRESIDENT: Because Condi is handling those conversations, and she's doing a fine job of doing so.


Q Mr. President, you've been quite specific in Hezbollah's role as the creator of this conflict. But what is the magnet, what is the pressure point, what is the hook to get this group to accept a cease-fire, to stop shooting and to stop kidnapping soldiers from across the border of another country?

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, I would hope it would be international pressure on not only Hezbollah, the group of Hezbollah within Lebanon, but also its sponsors. And that's the whole purpose of the United States working with allies and friends, is to send a clear message that sponsoring terror is unacceptable. It's the great challenge of the 21st century, really.

Q Do you --

THE PRESIDENT: Let me finish for a minute.

Q I'm sorry..

THE PRESIDENT: It is the great challenge of this century and it's this: As young democracies flourish, terrorists try to stop their progress. And it's the great challenge of the United States and others who are blessed with living in free countries. Not only do terrorists try to stop the advance of democracy through killing innocent people within those countries, they also try to shape the will of the western world by killing innocent westerners. They try to spread their jihadist message -- a message I call, it's totalitarian in nature -- Islamic radicalism, Islamic fascism, they try to spread it as well by taking the attack to those of us who love freedom.

And as far as this administration is concerned, we clearly see the problem and we're going to continue to work to advance stable, free countries. We don't expect every country to look like the United States, but we do want countries to accept some basic conditions for a vibrant society -- human rights, human decency, the power of the people to determine the fate of their governments. And, admittedly, this is hard work because it flies in the face of previous policy, which basically says stability is more important than form of government. And as a result of that policy, anger and resentment bubbled forth with an attack, with a series of attacks, the most dramatic of which was on September the 11th.

You know, your question is can we get people to -- a terrorist group to change their attitude. What we can do is we can get state sponsors of terror to understand this behavior is unacceptable, and that we can convince some people in terrorist groups that there is a better way forward for them and their families.

Remember, Hezbollah is a political party within Lebanon. They actually ran people for office. The problem is, is that they're a political party with a militia that is armed by foreign nations and, obviously, this political party with militia was willing to try to influence the Middle East through unprovoked attacks.

And what Condi is working on and I work on is to remind people about the stakes in the Middle East. And those stakes include not only helping the Lebanese government firm up its democracy -- remember, we worked with the French two years ago to boot out Syria. Syria was inside Lebanon and we felt that in order for a democracy to flourish, Syria needed to remove not only her troops, but her agents, her intelligence agents, for example.

And, obviously, there are some in the region that don't want the Lebanese government to succeed. I also happen to believe that as Prime Minister Olmert was making progress in reaching out to President Abbas and others in the region to develop a Palestinian state, that that caused a terrorist reaction. Remember, this all started with the kidnapping of an Israeli soldier by militant Hamas, followed shortly thereafter by the kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers by Hezbollah.

And, finally, the third most notable battleground in the advance of liberty is Iraq. It's interesting, if you go back to the work of Mr. Zarqawi, he talked about fomenting sectarian violence in order to stop the advance of democracy. The challenge of the 21st century is for free nations to help those who aspire to liberty. And, you know, the first question is, do people aspire to liberty? And the answer is, absolutely -- look at the 12 million people who voted in Iraq. Or look at the people who went to the polls in Lebanon. It's just clear to me that there will be terrorist activities that will try to stop people from living a decent, hopeful life.

And what you're watching now is the diplomatic efforts to address the problem. I know there's -- I sense a certain impatience in your voice about diplomacy coming to a conclusion. What Secretary Rice is doing, as well as me, is we are dealing with a lot of different interests. Remember, each nation at the Security Council has got its own domestic issues to deal with, as well, and so it is -- I wish things happened quicker in the diplomatic realm -- sometimes it takes a while to get things done. But what the American people need to know is we've got a strategy -- a strategy for freedom in the Middle East which protects the American people in the long run. And we've got a strategy to deal with the situations that arise in the Middle East -- first Lebanon; of course, the Iranian nuclear weapon issue.

And as you remember, right before the G8, the question on your mind was would we ever get a resolution out of the U.N. on the Iranians' desire to have a nuclear weapon, as well as whether or not we'd ever get a resolution out of the U.N. to deal with North Korea. As a matter of fact, there was great skepticism, I felt, in some circles, as to whether or not we'd be able to put a diplomacy in place that would deal with these two very difficult problems.

And, in fact, during the G8, two resolutions were passed -- by the way, those resolutions overshadowed by the situation in Lebanon. And I'm confident that working with our friends, if we stay on principle and remind people of the stakes, that we'll be able to accomplish the diplomatic objectives that we have set out -- which is dealing with this problem and addressing the long-term issues.

A couple more questions, and we'll get out -- Suzanne.

Q If I could follow Nedra's question. She had asked, Lebanon --

THE PRESIDENT: I can't remember that far back. (Laughter.)

Q Lebanon's parliament speaker, Nabih Berri, who has been negotiating for Hezbollah, has rejected the first resolution, saying it's unacceptable, they want the Israeli troops to pull out immediately. Is that a negotiable point? And, also, Secretary Rice, will you be reaching out to Berri, as you had spoken with him before?

THE PRESIDENT: Whatever happens in the U.N., we must not create a vacuum into which Hezbollah and its sponsors are able to move more weapons. Sometimes the world likes to take the easy route in order to solve a problem. Our view is, it's time to address root causes of problems. And to create a vacuum, Suzanne, is unacceptable. It would mean that we haven't addressed the root cause.

The idea is to have the Lebanese government move into the south so that the government of Lebanon can protect its own territory, and that there be an international force to provide the help necessary for the Lebanese government to secure its country. Remember, in Germany, the first thing I said was -- or one of the first things I said, I think I said this -- help me out here, if I didn't --

SECRETARY RICE: I think you did.

THE PRESIDENT: -- was we want the Siniora government to survive and to be strengthened. The linchpin of the policy is to support democracies. And so the strategy at the U.N., the diplomatic strategy is to support that notion, because a democracy in Lebanon will not only help that nation address its long-term issues -- such as rebuilding, providing a hopeful life -- but a democracy on Israeli's northern border will stabilize -- help stabilize the region. We are committed to a democracy in the Palestinian territory.

President Abbas, in his conversations with Condi, talked about moving forward with democracy. There are people who can't stand the thought of a society based upon universal liberty from emerging. And that, in itself, ought to be a warning signal to those of us who care deeply for peace, that people would be willing to kill innocent citizens in order to stop the advance of liberty.

Now, I've talked a lot about the universal appeal of liberty, and I readily concede some people aren't willing to -- some say, well, you know, liberty may not be universal in this sense -- America imposes its will. We don't impose liberty; liberty is universal.

It's one of the interesting debates of the 21st century, I think, that some would be willing to say it's okay for people not to live in a free society. It's not okay for us. If you love peace, in order to achieve peace you much help people realize that which is universal -- and that is freedom.

She asked you a question.

SECRETARY RICE: Our point of contact for the Lebanese government is obviously Prime Minister Siniora. As you know, I've also spoken to Speaker Berri on a couple of occasions.

I understand how emotional this is for the Lebanese. They've been through a very difficult war. It's emotional for Israel, as well. They're in the midst of a difficult war.

Let me just say that in terms of what the end state will look like here, I don't think there is any disagreement that the right solution is the one that the President referred to. It's the Lebanese, and the Lebanese armed forces able to secure their territory. And the international help is so that Lebanon can secure its territory. And I don't believe anybody anticipates that there should be foreign forces on Lebanese soil as a result of what has happened here.

And so I think there is room on this issue to work on this issue, because everybody has the same vision -- that it's the Lebanese army, with support from an international force, that can actually prevent that vacuum from obtaining again in the south, so that we're not right back here three or four or five months from now, in the same situation.

Q Mr. President, I don't think we've heard from you since Fidel Castro has fallen ill. Can you give us what you know of his current condition, what your administration's contingency plans are for his death, and how they address the desire of Cuban exiles in this country to eventually go home and reclaim their property?

THE PRESIDENT: First of all, Cuba is not a very transparent society, so the only thing I know is what has been speculated. And that is that, on the one hand, he's very ill, and on the other hand, he's going to be coming out of a hospital. I don't know. I really don't know.

And, secondly, that our desire is for the Cuban people to be able to choose their own form of government, and we would hope that -- and we'll make this very clear -- that as Cuba has the possibility of transforming itself from a tyrannical situation to a different type of society, the Cuban people ought to decide. The people on the island of Cuba ought to decide. And once the people of Cuba decide their form of government, then Cuban Americans can take an interest in that country and redress the issues of property confiscation. But first things first, and that is the Cuban people need to decide the future of their country.

Q Mr. President, if I could turn to Iraq for a moment.


Q When you and Prime Minister Blair met at the White House a few months ago, you were asked about mistakes and missteps. And he said the one mistake he made was miscalculating in thinking that a young democracy, as you put it, would be born very quickly after the fall of Saddam. Are you prepared today to agree with him and acknowledge that you've had the same expectations, which were wrong?

THE PRESIDENT: Actually, I think -- I can't remember his answer; I'm sure you've characterized it perfectly. My attitude is that a young democracy has been born quite quickly. And I think the Iraqi government has shown remarkable progress on the political front, and that is, is that they developed a modern constitution that was ratified by the people, and then 12 million people voted for a government -- which gives me confidence about the future in Iraq, by the way.

You know, I hear people say, well, civil war this, civil war that. The Iraqi people decided against civil war when they went to the ballot box. And a unity government is working to respond to the will of the people. And frankly, it's quite a remarkable achievement on the political front, and the security front is where there have been troubles. And it's going to be up to the Maliki government, with U.S. help, to use the trained forces, and eventually a trained police force, to take care of those who are trying to foment sectarian violence.

We've made some progress against some of those folks, particularly when Mr. Zarqawi met his demise. Remember, al Qaeda is in the country, all attempting to stop the advance of democracy. And the blowing up of the mosque created an opportunity for those who were trying to foment sectarian violence to achieve their objective. But the Iraqi people rejected that kind of sectarian violence, the army stood strong.

No question it's still difficult. On the other hand, the political process is part of helping to achieve our objective, which is a free country, an ally in the war on terror that can sustain itself and govern itself and defend itself.

Okay, who else? I don't want to hurt any feelings. Yes, sir.

Q Thank you very much.

THE PRESIDENT: Identify yourself.

Q Kevin Corke, NBC News, sir.

THE PRESIDENT: Right. I knew that.

Q Yes, sir.

THE PRESIDENT: Just wanted to make sure you did.

Q Yes, indeed. In reading the 1559 resolution and the draft, as it's currently constructed, there are a lot of similarities, quite frankly. And I'm wondering if you could speak to maybe the frustration some Americans might be feeling that you've said we want sustainable peace, we don't want to come back here in a few months or a few years -- and, yet, it seems like there will be another resolution, maybe another resolution, maybe another this, that and the other. People get frustrated. Can you understand that and respond to that, sir?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, the people who should get really frustrated are the Israelis and the Lebanese. They ought to be the ones who are frustrated, because 1559 clearly laid a way forward for there to be a strong democracy in Lebanon, which will more likely yield the peace. And there is a level of frustration around the world with organizations that will take innocent life to achieve political objectives. And our job is to remind people that this isn't a moment, this is a movement, and that we must deal with this movement. We must deal with this movement with strong security measures, we must bring justice to those who would attack us, and at the same time, defeat their ideology by the spread of liberty.

And it takes a lot of work. This is the beginning of a long struggle against an ideology that is real and profound. It's Islamo-fascism. It comes in different forms. They share the same tactics, which is to destroy people and things in order to create chaos in the hopes that their vision of the world become predominant in the Middle East.

And Condi and I will work hard -- by the way, the United States can't win this war alone. We can do damage to the enemy. We can take the philosophical high ground and remind people of the importance of how freedom can change societies. But we will work with allies and friends to achieve this objective. And part of the challenge in the 21st century is to remind people about the stakes, and remind people that in moments of quiet, there's still an Islamic fascist group plotting, planning and trying to spread their ideology. And one of the things that -- one of the things that came out of this unfortunate incident in the Middle East is it is a stark reminder that there are those who want to stop the advance of liberty and destabilize young democracies. And they're willing to kill people to do so.

I repeat, this whole incident started because Hezbollah kidnapped two soldiers and launched rocket attacks. And it's been unfortunate that people on both sides of the border have lost life. And we're committed to helping the Lebanese government rebuild.

On the other hand, what we won't do is allow for a false hope. We believe that it's important to challenge the root cause now. We thought we had done so with 1559, but 1559 wasn't implemented. In other words, there was a way forward to deal with the problem. And now there's another chance to deal with the problem, and that's the role of the United States, working with others, to not only remind people about the problem, but to come up with solutions in dealing with the problem. And the solutions that we are working with our friends are, in our judgment, is the best hope for achieving stability and peace.

But it takes a lot of work. And it takes commitment and focus. And that's what this administration will continue to do. We'll stay focused on the problem and stay focused on coming up with solutions that, when implemented, will leave behind a better world.

Thank you all very much for your interest.

END 9:36 A.M. CDT