Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Secretary Rice on Lebanon from Jeddah

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

October 3, 2006


We have talked about the need to support the young states of Lebanon and Iraq, young democracies that are under considerable pressure, Lebanon in particular, after the war to support its reconstruction, to support its rearming and reform of its armed forces, which now are being used to extend Lebanese authority throughout the country.

We talked about the need for resolution for the United Nations relating to Lebanon to be fully implemented. And that includes for there to be respect for the arms embargo that the UN has recognized so that there will be no arms to any group, and that includes Hezbollah, any group except to the authorized Lebanese security forces.        

The Syrian regime has not been one of the regimes that is supporting those moderate forces, in fact, quite the opposite. Syria has been a major transshipment point for weapons from Iran to Hezbollah. Syria’s negative role in Lebanon is well known. Fortunately, Syrian forces were forced to leave Lebanon under international pressure and the pressure of the Lebanese people last year, but Syria continues to be a force that could stabilize Lebanon and that engages in continued intimidation of those leaders.

And so it’s extremely important that Syria make a choice. This is not a choice for the United States to make; it’s a choice for Syria to make. And that is does it intend to be a part of the consensus that is represented by states like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and others that the Middle East should be a place in which the Palestinian Authority is supported not those like Palestinian Islamic Jihad or the Hamas based in Damascus that continues to frustrate the hopes of the Palestinian people or the -- those who would destabilize Lebanon. It’s a choice for Syria to make. Thank you.