Tuesday, January 30, 2007

President Bush on the Recent Violence in Lebanon

The White House, President George W. Bush

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
January 29, 2007

President Bush Disappointed by Recent Violence in Lebanon

I am deeply disappointed by the recent violence and bloodshed on the streets of Lebanon. It is all the more troubling that the violence occurred while Lebanon's legitimate leaders and friends were gathered together in Paris to help secure a peaceful and prosperous future for the country. Lebanon's friends have pledged a total of $7.6 billion at the International Conference on Support for Lebanon. I will ask Congress for $770 million to contribute to this cause. With this pledge, total U.S. support for Lebanon since last summer's conflict, including the $230 million pledged at the Stockholm conference last August, will equal approximately $1 billion. This is a strong symbol of the American people's support for and commitment to the future of Lebanon.

All those who seek a peaceful, constitutional solution to the crisis in Lebanon deserve the support of the international community, but those responsible for creating chaos must be called to account. While Lebanon's friends seek to help the Lebanese government build a free, sovereign, and prosperous country, Syria, Iran, and Hizballah are working to destabilize Lebanese society. Their goals are clear. They foment violence in order to prevent the establishment of a Special Tribunal in response to former Prime Minister Hariri's assassination, to prevent full implementation of U.N. Security Council resolutions calling for Hizballah's disarmament, and to bring down Lebanon's democratically elected government, in violation of its constitution. The United States will continue to support Lebanon's government as it seeks a peaceful and prosperous future for all the people of Lebanon.

Friday, January 26, 2007

US assistance to Lebanon-Fact Sheet

US Department of State
Fact Sheet
Bureau of Public Affairs

Washington, DC
January 25, 2007

United States Supports the Recovery of Lebanon

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"The United States will coordinate closely with other major donors, with the international financial institutions, and with all who are committed to Lebanon's future… Through our common efforts, we must help the people of Lebanon to emerge…more prosperous and stronger than ever." -- Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice

The United States is helping Lebanon to recover after last summer's conflict, and is committed to a sovereign, democratic and prosperous Lebanon. The United States led the international effort to bring urgently needed humanitarian relief to the people of Lebanon. A comprehensive U.S. aid package continues to support reconstruction, development and security efforts throughout Lebanon. The United States also coordinates with the international community's efforts to foster Lebanon's long-term development and fiscal stabilization.


  • $770 million in new assistancerequested in FY 2007 supplemental budget
  • Over $230 million pledged at August 2006 Stockholm conference, over half already committed
  • U.S.-funded programs reaching more than 2 million people in over 500 villages in 24 of Lebanon's 26 districts
  • Enough wheat, wheat flour, and lentil commodities through the UN World Food Program to reach an estimated 714,000 people
  • Water and sanitation services for more than 600,000 people
  • Cash-for-work and training programs for Lebanese citizens who lost livelihoods
  • Transitional and winterization shelter supplies for host families and displaced persons


  • Rehabilitation and upgrading of schools
  • Reconstruction begun on Mudeirej Bridge, a critical transportation link
  • $120 million from Citigroup and Overseas Private Investment Corporation for loans to businesses and homeowners, through Lebanese banks
  • Oil spill cleanup in the Byblos and Anfeh areas


  • New equipment and spare parts for Lebanese security services
  • Training programs, offered with international partners
  • One-quarter of costs of United Nations Peacekeeping Force (UNIFIL) mission
  • Funding mine action organizations that have cleared more than 73,000 pieces of unexploded ordnance


President Bush sent four U.S. CEOs and Assistant Secretary of State Dina Habib Powell to Lebanon in September 2006 to launch a public-private Partnership to assist the Lebanese people. The delegation included Craig Barrett, Intel Corporation; John Chambers, Cisco Systems, Inc.; Yousif Ghafari, Ghafari, Inc.; and Ray Irani, Occidental Petroleum Corporation. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice met with the Partnership CEOs at the January 2007 Lebanon Donors Conference in Paris, where Microsoft also joined the Partnership leaders. The Partnership is working with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that have a proven track record in Lebanon to address the immediate needs of adequate housing, education, and workforce training.

The NGOs include:

  • Habitat for Humanity
  • The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)
  • American Near East Refugee Aid (ANERA)
  • Mercy Corps

The Partnership also will:

  • Donate an International Gateway and an Internet Exchange Point to Lebanon to improve the speed and efficiency of Internet traffic flow into the country.
  • Identify and place 500 Lebanese interns in various fields in Lebanon and the U.S. over the next three years.
  • Announce 25 priority projects in key industries of technology, tourism, banking and finance, agribusiness, health care, and manufacturing.
  • Establish community access centers to provide on-line access to job training, health care information, on-line education, and government services.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Secretary Rice at the Lebanon donor's conference

Remarks At the Lebanon Donors' Conference
Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Paris, France
January 25, 2007

SECRETARY RICE: I want to thank President Chirac and the French people for so graciously hosting us. Thank you, as well to Prime Minister Siniora for being here with your team. We've heard from you today and I hope that you know how much your steadfast dedication to the Lebanese people is appreciated by the international community.

I would also like to thank UN Secretary General Ban. It is very good to have you on on board. We look forward to working with you. And of course, European Commission President Barroso for being here as well.

I think this conference demonstrates the widespread international support for the people of Lebanon.

The United States remains committed to a sovereign, democratic, and prosperous Lebanon, and we are grateful for the many private and public partners, throughout the world, who are supporting the efforts of this democratic government of Prime Minister Siniora to bring peace, and stability, and economic opportunity to its people.

A lot has happened since the convention of the conference in Stockholm last summer to discuss ways to hasten the recovery and bring relief to the Lebanese people after the tragic events of the summer. The outpouring of international support for Lebanon has been widespread, from the Red Cross, to UN agencies, to the nongovernmental NGO community, and of course, from the United States.

We are committed to building on this work. And so to support the Lebanese people's aspirations for peace, stability, and economic development, President Bush will request from Congress $770 million for a new comprehensive package to assist Lebanon. This new package will include both economic and security assistance, and we will provide a substantial portion of this money in the form of grants, not loans.

This brings America's total post-conflict assistance to Lebanon to $1 billion, including the $230 million pledged at Stockholm. This major increase reflects our steadfast commitment to the Lebanese people, but also our faith in the Lebanese people and their ability to overcome their difficulties. The comprehensive aid package will continue to support security, reconstruction, and development efforts throughout the country. And let me add, most importantly: Our assistance will support the Lebanese government's own ambitious reform program, which demonstrates its commitment to reducing its debt and achieving economic and financial stability.

The reconstruction effort would not be possible without the help of the private sector. American businesses are delivering on their promise to support the Lebanese people by helping to create jobs, to train workers, to rebuild homes, schools and businesses, and to strengthen computer technology throughout Lebanon.

A key part of this public-private partnership is the Overseas Private Investment Corporation. This government agency has partnered with Citibank*  to extend up to $120 million in new financing, through Lebanese banks, for loans to support Lebanese businesses and homeowners. Combined with the efforts of the U.S.-Lebanon Partnership -- with whose members of Prime Minister Siniora's team and Prime Minister Siniora we met this morning -- I believe these loans will encourage additional private investment and contribute to economic growth.

As we make steps forward in the reconstruction and development effort, we must not lose sight of the need to continue to fully implement all UN Security Council resolutions related to Lebanon, in particular UN Security Council Resolution 1701. This is just essential to the security of the region. We commend the Lebanese government for the steps it has taken to deploy the Lebanese armed forces to the south, and we applaud the international community, and particularly the contributors around this table, for the successful deployment of the enhanced UNIFIL forces to help Lebanon secure its sovereignty. But of course, much more work remains to be done. I look forward to the report of the UN Secretary General on important aspects of Resolution 1701 so that we can move forward on those important aspects. And I look forward to this conference providing to the Lebanese government the resources to see these jobs through.

Ladies and gentlemen, the people of Lebanon deserve to live in peace. They deserve to make decisions about their political future free from the threat of violence and free from political intimidation. The United States is dedicated to this task. We will help to defend democracy in Lebanon and remain grateful to all of our partners who have joined forces to improve the lives of the Lebanese people.

Thank you very much, Mr. President. (Applause.)


Secretary Rice, PM Siniora and the US Lebanon Partnership

Joint Press Availability With Lebanese Prime Minister Siniora and Lebanon Partnership CEOs
Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Paris, France
January 25, 2007

Lebanon Partnership CEOs: Craig Barrett, Chairman, Intel Corporation; John Chambers, President and CEO, Cisco Corporation; Jay Collins, CEO Public Sector Group, Citigroup; Yousif Ghafari, Chairman, Ghafari Companies

PRIME MINISTER SINIORA: -- for the people you can see on the stand here regarding the public-private partnership and the role that can be played by certain private companies in the development of Lebanon. This comes as a response to an initiative that we made, and kindly President Bush has responded and requested these leaders in their fields and companies to see how they can really help Lebanon. And I would like to see this opportunity to thank President Bush for what he has done in this regard as well as in the success of the conference for the support of Lebanon that will be held today.

And today we are going to really discuss a few things in here about what can be done in terms of development in Lebanon in the remote areas, in the creation of jobs and training and exposing people. We have discussed several aspects about the help that can be provided by these companies to the young Lebanese who are not able to find jobs, who are not able to be aware of what's happening in the world.

So we suggested a few things in terms of really having centers in certain public schools as well as in community centers that can really establish certain libraries that are, let's say, connected internet with the world so that this can really provide learning, knowledge to many of our young generation and to the Lebanese at large to be connected. And this can happen in learning as well as in job creation.

Secretary Rice.

SECRETARY RICE: Thank you. Well, thank you very much, Prime Minister, and thank you for your leadership of Lebanon in difficult times. But I am -- I think we're all very impressed with your commitment to all of the Lebanese people, and this panel is really also a commitment to all of Lebanon's people to try and help them find a brighter future. As an educator myself, I like very much the idea that you have of these communities and being able to give young people new tools to be able to prepare themselves and to bring job creation to remote areas.

This is a public-private partnership. The United States Government is later going to announce its own contribution to Lebanon's development, but we recognize that the private sector can really be the multiplier in all of this because investment in people, investment in job creation, investment in development -- there's really nothing like the private sector for that. And so I want to thank very much first John Chambers, who has led this effort, and to invite him to say a word; but also Yousif Ghafari, who is by origin Lebanese and has still many ties to Lebanon; also Craig Barrett from Intel and Jay Collins from Citigroup for being the leaders in this private sector initiative. So, John.

MR. CHAMBERS: Thank you, Madame Secretary. When President Bush asked us to go to Lebanon, he didn't say this is the answer. He said, "Go and listen." He said there's a leader there who's very, very good, elected democratically. Listen to the business leaders, listen to students, listen to the businesses in terms of what is possible, see what the NGOs can do, et cetera, and come back with an approach.

And when we first went it was a daunting task, and all of a sudden you realized what could really happen through public-private partnerships. All of a sudden, instead of making a difference in a community, we have the potential to together do what none of us can do by ourselves: to help every citizen of Lebanon.

And the more we looked at it, we realized based upon the Prime Minister's priorities and what we were hearing from all groups in Lebanon, is that we can make a huge difference in immediate relief to the NGOs, which we have done. We could also do what business does best. We could outline a hundred projects for job creation, prioritize those down to 10 or 20, and each of us or together say what we could do in each of those categories. Workforce preparedness, whether it's the high-tech academies or approaches, really training a workforce for the future.

But it was the community centers that the Prime Minister personally suggested that suddenly the light bulb went off, where we could make a difference not just to connect community centers for the citizens to be gaining access to the libraries that are being built in Beirut, but to the world and to the region. And all of a sudden a government that really gets it could provide healthcare, education, training, registration and it could be expanded to the schools. And all of a sudden, instead of saying let's rebuild, you suddenly begin to realize a vision, I think a vision of Lebanon for the future that others would follow.

It is tremendously enticing to us as business leaders to look at what this model could be and how quickly it could be replicated. We are not naïve in terms of the challenges in front of us, but we do think public-private partnerships are the way of the future where business can play a key role in doing things that we do remarkably well. But it has to be all of us working together and focused on the good of the citizenship for all the Lebanese people throughout.

So it's an honor to play this role and we will not let you down.

PRIME MINISTER SINIORA: Thank you very much, John. Thank you.

SECRETARY RICE: Thank you very much, and we look forward to working with you very much. Maybe Yousif could do ---


MR. GHAFARI: This is very close to home. I was born in the south of Lebanon and my little village was very much affected with what happened --


MR. GHAFARI: (Inaudible). The Prime Minister and I come from the south of Lebanon. The Prime Minister is from a large city. I'm from a little village. And like I said, this is very close to home. I'm very much looking forward to working with John Chambers and the rest, and we look forward to very quick (inaudible) that will be used as an example for the rest of the country. Thank you.



QUESTION: A question actually first to the Secretary. Is the $770 million in U.S. aid that you will announce today contingent on Prime Minister Siniora remaining in power and the establishment of a Hariri tribunal?

I guess I might ask a similar question to the business executives. Would you be willing to continue your investment if the Siniora government falls?


QUESTION: And for the Prime Minister, do you think that Hezbollah has the power to bring down your government at will, as Nasrallah said yesterday?

SECRETARY RICE: Anne, clearly this is a package that is for Lebanon and that is extremely important to understand. Lebanon is a democracy. That said, Lebanon is also undertaking some important economic reforms that are critical to making any of this work, and it's not at all unusual that donors expect that those reforms are going to continue, in fact, as the donor community responds to the needs. And so from our point of view, the reforms that this government has taken and is undertaking are making it -- those reforms are making it possible to contemplate contributions of the size that the United States is going to make today and inviting an environment in which business can operate. But this is for Lebanon and for the Lebanese people, and I'm sure the Prime Minister would have it no other way.

PRIME MINISTER SINIORA: Let me make it very clear in this respect. I've said it several times. I'm saying it again. It's that this conference and the results are for all the Lebanese, not for any group against other groups and not for one specific government. This is going to extend over a number of years and the benefits is going to accrue to all Lebanese elements, ultimately to all the Lebanese. So no one can really conclude that this is for the benefit of one group or one person at all, completely. This is for all Lebanon and all the Lebanese.

The second thing is that my government is there as the legitimate and the constitutional government. It will continue as long as it has the support of the constitutional authorities which is the parliament and has the majority of the Lebanese. So as long as we enjoy this -- for this confidence we are saying we are elected, democratically elected government, and will continue to behave as such.

SECRETARY RICE: Thank you very much.

Secretary Rice interview on LBC

Interview With Marcel Ghanem of Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Paris, France
January 25, 2007

QUESTION: Dr. Rice, good afternoon and thank you for joining us in this exclusive interview. Do you think that the support provided to Lebanon is a kind of delay to avoid the collapse of Lebanon until a final settlement of its internal crisis is reached?

SECRETARY RICE: I think that the show of support today for Lebanon is a show of support for the democratic process in Lebanon, for the reform process and for the people of Lebanon. Every speaker spoke about the tremendous burdens that have been put on Lebanon by the tragedy this summer coming out of the war, but also by the political crisis. But this is a show of support because people believe in Lebanon's future.

QUESTION: Yes, but the Lebanese opposition scored a point before yesterday. They (inaudible) be canceled. How do you deal with this?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, you look at the difference of people burning tires to keep people from going to work, and today an expression that the public sector -- private sector ought to be providing jobs for Lebanese people, ought to be providing housing for Lebanese people. That's where the leadership is, in providing for the needs of people, not somehow burning tires so they can't go to work.

And so I would hope that the Lebanese people understand that this conference is for all Lebanese. Prime Minister Siniora made very clear that he is here representing all of Lebanon and that the money that is pledged here will be used to help the poorest in Lebanon and also to help Lebanon's economy develop.

QUESTION: Dr. Rice, is Lebanon at the brink of a new civil war?

SECRETARY RICE: Lebanese people do not want to have a violent confrontation. That is very clear. There are those, I think, who would like to see violence in Lebanon.


SECRETARY RICE: But -- well, perhaps those from the outside that don't want to see a successful Lebanon, or those from the outside who after years of intimidation of the Lebanese people, of occupation of Lebanese country -- of the Lebanese country, do not really want to see Lebanon independent and sovereign.

But the Lebanese people want to live in peace. They want to live in economic prosperity. And I hope that all political elements will really represent now the desires of the Lebanese people. You have a democratically elected government. That government should be allowed to govern and it should be allowed to move forward with this kind of strong international support.

QUESTION: But what is the role of Syria and Iran?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I don't think that the role of Syria and Iran has frankly been very constructive. In fact, Syria, which is a neighbor of Lebanon and there should be no problem with it, will not even recognize Lebanon to send an ambassador to Lebanon, as you should do with any neighboring state, because Syria appears not to want to recognize the full sovereignty of Lebanon. But the international community represents and recognizes the full sovereignty of Lebanon. Resolution 1701, which ended the conflict this summer, is precisely to help Lebanon extend its sovereignty throughout the country, and that is going to continue to be the goal of the international community.

QUESTION: But also, as you know, Dr. Rice, Hezbollah doesn't seem to be willing to give up its weapons. No one seems to have the will nor capacity to disarm Hezbollah. How do you see a potential solution for this problem, like a new UN resolution under Chapter 7?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, there is already a UN resolution, first 1559 and then 1701, because ultimately all arms need to be in the hands of the Lebanese Government and the Lebanese security forces, which are being reformed, which are being supported. The United States and Europe are supporting the reform of the Lebanese armed forces. No democracy can exist with militias that operate outside of the governmental process. We saw the problem with that this summer when Hezbollah, as a state within a state, launched an attack across an international line.

But it's going to have to be a Lebanese process that comes to terms with this issue. What we are doing right now is to support Lebanon, support the Lebanese people. The United States pledged today $770 million to support Lebanon. The world is pledging funding. But it's more than funding. People are pledging political support, and Lebanon will have the international community as a friend.

QUESTION: Dr. Rice, the stability in Lebanon is based on the region and balance of power. Don't you think that a dialogue with Syria and Iran is a must, especially after the deal between Iran and Saudi Arabia?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I think that it's fine for people to have regional dialogues if they see fit. From our point of view, we have given an opportunity to Iran for dialogue. I was prepared to change 27 years of policy and to talk with my Iranian counterpart if they will just abandon their path toward a nuclear weapon.

With Syria, we've -- the United States has diplomatic relations with Syria. We've talked and talked and talked. But this isn't about talk. This is about action. And if Iran and Syria adopt policies that are, in fact, stabilizing to the region rather than destabilizing, rather than destabilizing to Lebanon, destabilizing to the Palestinian territories, destabilizing to Iraq, then they can be helpful in the international community. But they know how to do that. They don't need to tell me -- have me tell them.

QUESTION: Okay. But is there still room for compromise with the current regime in Syria?

SECRETARY RICE: We want the regime to change its behavior in Syria and we've made that very, very clear. But again, this is not difficult. They know what to do. They simply need to do it.

QUESTION: Does any potential agreement between Iran and Saudi Arabia to settle the Lebanese crisis have a chance to last and will Washington approve it? And what if Syria is not involved in such agreement?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, from my point of view, this is for the Lebanese to decide. If regional powers can help them, that's fine. But Lebanon has to be in agreement. The Lebanese Government, the democratically elected Lebanese Government, has to be in agreement with how to resolve this crisis.

I would hope that the Arab initiative, Arab League initiative that Amr Moussa has been talking about, that other regional efforts will carry forward. But they must respect the democratic choices that Lebanese people made in their elections more than a year ago and they must respect the international community's demand that there be a tribunal so that those who have perpetrated horrible crimes, including the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, can be brought to justice.

QUESTION: Last question, Dr. Rice. How would the U.S. deal with the potential presidential vacancy, especially that the conditions to conduct elections could not be met in September?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I simply hope that the conditions will be met and that Lebanon can elect a president that is a part of its future. It's an important position and it needs to be a part of Lebanon's future.

But I have some confidence in the Lebanese people to resolve these differences among them. If foreign powers will stay out, if those who are a part of the process will not resort to intimidation or to violence, if people will find a way to bring about their differences -- to reconcile their differences peacefully, I have great confidence in the Lebanese Government and in the government of Prime Minister Siniora to overcome this crisis. And I think the response today of the international community suggests that the international community also has confidence in Lebanon.

QUESTION: Thank you, Dr. Rice, for granting us this exclusive interview.


QUESTION: Thank you very much.

Secretary Rice on-the-record briefing en route to Paris III Lebanon Donors Conference

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Paris, France
January 24, 2007

SECRETARY RICE: We have two stops on this trip. The first, of course, is Paris for the Paris III Donors Conference for Lebanon. I'm very much looking forward to meeting with the other representatives of the countries that are supporting the democratically elected Government of Lebanon. Yesterday's events, if anything, make more important a message from the international community that it supports the democratically elected Government of Lebanon and that the -- there should not be violence or efforts at intimidation to try and make governing more difficult for the Prime Minister and his government.

The United States is going to make a significant pledge to Lebanon. The President will request of the Congress $770 million in support for Lebanon, given that will be about two-thirds support for security and projects and about one-third support that's just direct economic assistance. We also have, of course, over the last several months because of the reconstruction assistance, the private sector assistance, the United States has contributed over a billion dollars to -- will have contributed over a billion dollars to Lebanon.

I am also going to meet with the private sector CEOs who visited Lebanon not too long ago. We believe that the involvement of the private sector is extremely important to the rebuilding of Lebanon and to Lebanon's reentry into the international economic system. We've been talking to a lot of countries about the need for support for Lebanon and I think this conference will be an important signal.

Why don't we talk about Lebanon first and then we can go on to (inaudible).

QUESTION: Did yesterday's events signal to you that Hezbollah has the political strength to overthrow the Siniora government (inaudible) they pulled back (inaudible) from their full force with (inaudible)?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I assume that they would not want to plunge Lebanon into open conflict and to kill lots of innocent Lebanese to pursue their political goals. So I think that yesterday was certainly, I believe as the Government of Lebanon said, it was an effort to provoke, it was an effort to intimidate, and Prime Minister Siniora is on his way to Paris and I think it shows that his government is not intimidated.

QUESTION: Do you know if the violence is continuing today? I heard reports of border clashes?

SECRETARY RICE: I have not heard since early this morning, when I think we were told that Beirut was calm. But I don't know what's happened since we've gotten on the plane.

QUESTION: Can you give us a little more detail on the two-thirds that will go towards security and projects?

SECRETARY RICE: Why don't I have someone come and give you the whole breakdown. But the two-thirds security is security and project support. But remember, we have an obligation to help rebuild the Lebanese security forces and so that's one aspect of it. But 300 million of it is outright budget support, 250 in liquid support, cash support, and then 50 in project support.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) any of that support is tied to economic reform on the part of (inaudible)?

SECRETARY RICE: There are, as Lebanon has been very pleased to have, expectations about continued progress on economic reform.

QUESTION: Not commitments?

SECRETARY RICE: There are benchmarks associated with the assistance, but we think that Lebanon will be meeting them. For instance, I know that yesterday the IMF welcomed the Lebanese reform, and so I think the reform plan is one that people will back.

QUESTION: Were you surprised by the (inaudible)?

SECRETARY RICE: The violence is certainly unfortunate, but people can have street demonstrations. I think that's happened before. And by the way, it's happened on both sides, not just on the Hezbollah side. So I think you need to also note that when March 14th has turned out its forces, it's turned them out but it's turned them out peacefully.

QUESTION: What is your understanding of where they're at in terms of (inaudible) talks of a compromise (inaudible) formula which could increase the opposition's role (inaudible)?

SECRETARY RICE: There are several efforts underway. The Arab League one is probably still the most active. As you know, I met with Amr Moussa when I was in Egypt and he described to me some of his efforts. But I don't really want to get into the details of specifically what -- I'm not involved in the details of what each side may or may not be proposing, but I do know that everybody understands the importance of the international tribunal and everybody understands the importance of maintaining the fact that the Siniora government was duly elected and the number of seats in the government reflect that parliamentary election.

QUESTION: Why do you think the government is likely to keeps its promises on the reform this time? As you'll recall, after Paris II in 2003* they didn't keep their promises and, if anything, this is a government that is politically weak and therefore in a harder place to try to pursue tax increases (inaudible).

SECRETARY RICE: Well, it's not going to be easy. But I think this is also a government that has demonstrated its mettle, it's demonstrated that it can be very resolute and very tough, demonstrated that during the war. And I think there are a lot of people in Lebanon who understand that the economic reforms are quite crucial to putting Lebanon back on economic footing. For instance with the tremendous debt overhand, economic reform is really the only way to deal with that problem. And so I take the Lebanese Government's assurances that it's going to carry through with the reform program.

But there is lots of help going to Lebanon that is not specifically tied as well. I think that if you look at some of the reconstruction assistance, that's obviously direct to the Lebanese people. The humanitarian assistance is direct to the Lebanese people. And so it's simply when you want to do budget support that you want to make sure that the budget support is actually going to have an effect. That's why you have economic reform tied.

QUESTION: To what extent does either direct support or anything else in this basket of aid kind of answer the Hezbollah going around giving out checks (inaudible)?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, it certainly shows that the international community and the United States in particular are very committed to Lebanon. You know, you'll have to rely on your own sources, but my understanding is a lot of the reconstruction in the south that Hezbollah promised hasn't gone forward. And so people should look not just at promises but also at what's going forward.

And let me just make clear, the President will request this from Congress. That's how it should read.

QUESTION: How great do you think the danger is in the violence yesterday that Lebanon (inaudible) sliding towards a kind of sectarian violence (inaudible)?

SECRETARY RICE: It's a very complicated situation but it really does require then all of Lebanon's political segments, all of its confessional groups, to be responsible in what they do. And I think what you saw yesterday was irresponsible in the violence that erupted.

Okay, enough on Lebanon? Go ahead.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.)

SECRETARY RICE: Why don't we do Afghanistan on the way to Brussels, all right?

STAFF: I'll get you guys something more in terms of the specific breakdown (inaudible).

SECRETARY RICE: Yeah, right.

QUESTION: If I could ask you one North Korea one.


QUESTION: North Korea and Iran question. A report in the Daily Telegraph newspaper citing a senior European defense official who is nameless as saying that he believes that North Korea is providing assistance to Iran to conduct underground nuclear tests. Do you have any reason to believe that there's anything to that?

SECRETARY RICE: I've only seen the report too, and I don't even -- I don't know what it's based on. I don't see that it's based on anything that I've seen.

QUESTION: Any updates on the (inaudible)?

SECRETARY RICE: I was (inaudible). We're going to have some conflicting schedules, but I think we're going to -- I really do hope in the next few weeks. We want to get -- I want to get out to the Middle East again, certainly before the end of next month, but I think well before that. So get your bags packed.

QUESTION: Would you rather do that meeting on the Middle East someplace in Europe?

SECRETARY RICE: I think it doesn't matter so much where the meeting is. I'm going out to the region anyway, wherever the meeting is held. But it would be good, I think, to -- frankly, to be able to do it in the region would be good.

QUESTION: Do you still think, like, basically before Valentine's Day though, right? I mean, you still think basically the first half of February or --

SECRETARY RICE: I'm sorry, (inaudible) I didn't hear you.

QUESTION: You still think it'll be in the first half of February or what?

SECRETARY RICE: Oh, I would say middle of February is what I would think. But you know, don't go print middle of February because I don't have a date yet. I'm just giving you a heads up.

QUESTION: Moving further south on the map, in Somalia (inaudible).

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I think that everyone is looking to see how the Transitional Government might be broadened and obviously there has been some hope that on an individual basis some of the elements that were involved with the (inaudible) might prove to be a broadening influence. But obviously that's going to be up to the Transitional Government. I think the issue here is simply to understand better the intentions of the Sheikh and to get -- to have that conversation.

But you know, the Transitional Government is obviously not going to reach out to or take in people who are not going to play by certain rules, not allowing terrorists to occupy is extremely important, not allowing terrorists safe haven is extremely important, some recognition that the -- well, recognition that the Transitional Government is, in fact, the internationally recognized governing entity for Somalia at this point. But exploratory discussions to reach out to a variety of people and see how broad the base could be, I think it's a useful thing to do but it's also going to be up to the Transitional Government how this evolves.

QUESTION: Can you confirm that the U.S. was involved in further military action this morning (inaudible)?

SECRETARY RICE: I can't. I can't, because I don't have anything for you.

QUESTION: What do you think about the beginnings of the Ethiopian withdrawal?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, the Ethiopians have always made very clear that they did not want to sit in Mogadishu and that's what -- in fact, this was said to me very -- not long after Ethiopia went in to Mogadishu. But they also recognize a responsibility not to leave a security vacuum and I think that's why you've seen very accelerated efforts by the AU to try to get forces that can play that role.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) one or two (inaudible)? How did your talk with Foreign Minister Song go?

SECRETARY RICE: I did talk with Foreign Minister Song. I talked with the Japanese Foreign Minister and the Chinese Foreign Minister yesterday. We're hoping for an early resumption. I think it's time to do that. We've had productive preparatory discussions with all of the parties, including with the North Koreans. But it isn't going to be an agreement -- there's not going to be an agreement until we're in the six-party context, and so I think people would like to get to an early resumption of the talks.

All right.

QUESTION: Thank you.

State Department Spokesman on developments in Lebanon-January 25

US Department of State

Daily Press Briefing
Sean McCormack, Spokesman
Washington, DC
January 25, 2007

MR. MCCORMACK: We would appeal for calm -- and I've seen certainly on the TV screens and the press reports about the violence that has broken out at one of the universities there. I can't pinpoint for you the origins of this violence, but the initial reporting from our folks on the ground seem -- would indicate that this is an outgrowth of the political tensions that we're seeing within Lebanon today. I understand that there was a loss of life and that's tragic.

Again, I can't pinpoint for you who started this or exactly the motivations behind it, but what you -- it is fair to say that there are certain irresponsible parties in Lebanon who have been provoking an atmosphere of confrontation and antagonism within the political system. And the links between those individuals and groups and outside entities are well known and they have been engaged in a cynical manipulation of public perceptions in the political process.

And I do think it is fair to say that those attempts at cynical manipulation of the political process certainly have had an effect on the overall atmosphere in Lebanon and I think it is fair to say likely played a role in these kinds of tensions that you're seeing manifested at -- today in Beirut and at the university.

QUESTION: Could it affect the results of Paris-3 conference?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, I think what it underscores is the fact that we and the international system stand behind those who are implementing -- proposing and implementing the political and economic reforms that it is going -- that are going to make Lebanon a more democratic, prosperous country. And we stand with those people.

It's well known who is on the other side of that fence, those individuals who are ready to use violence, use extremism to whip up emotions within the Lebanese political process in ways that are unproductive and detrimental to Lebanon and to the Lebanese people.

QUESTION: Sean, do you think that weakened Siniora inside Lebanon, just as he's getting all this international support, to have the violence on the streets? Has that weakened him at home politically?

MR. MCCORMACK: I can't do a political analysis for you, but what it -- I guess -- I don't know what the intended effects of this violence were. Again, I can't tell you what the motivations were behind it, but the reaction from the international community is that we stand with the Siniora government and the Lebanese people who are fighting for a better, more democratic, prosperous Lebanon.


QUESTION: Do you think that this money, this $7 billion or so that's been pledged will somehow help the political situation there? Is that your wish that it will somehow embolden the Siniora government and improve his standing within his own people in Lebanon?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, he -- his standing with his own people in Lebanon is quite strong, it would appear. The money is intended -- there is a twofold effect here. One, there are very real, practical effects in terms of budget, support, reconstruction, security assistance. So those are very, very real, tangible effects. But the other effect is an expression of political and diplomatic support for the Siniora government by the international system. And what that is intended to do is intended to support the forces of freedom, democracy, and reform in Lebanon and Prime Minister Siniora is at the lead of those -- at those forces. So the net effect is to strengthen Prime Minister Siniora, I believe, within Lebanon.

QUESTION: But with all of this political turmoil, you have been speaking about seeing various companies that are interested in investing. How are you going to encourage investor confidence in Lebanon when the political situation is so unstable? You have -- you know, riots on the streets, people being killed. It's a very difficult situation.

MR. MCCORMACK: It is a difficult situation and it's an important moment in Lebanon's history, but you have private sector individuals, hard-nosed businessmen who take a look at the situation in Lebanon and say, "We are going to invest in Lebanon." You have countries like -- companies like Cisco, Microsoft, Occidental Petroleum, who say that, despite some of the political turmoil in Lebanon right now, we are making a bet on Lebanon and Lebanon's political future. And -- but that is that the Lebanese people are going to succeed in overcoming the forces of violent extremism and oppression in that country. Now, it's not to say that that is going to be an easy task. The Siniora government and those forces for freedom and democracy in Lebanon need support. They need support from the international community and you just saw a very strong tangible demonstration of that today, not only from governments around the world, but also the private sector, as well.

QUESTION: How much did the private sector put forward? Do you have a number or is it just promises?

MR. MCCORMACK: I don't have a specific number. There was the $150 million OPIC facility that was worked with Citigroup.

QUESTION: Is that a loan guarantee or something?

MR. MCCORMACK: The -- you can check with OPIC as to the term of art that is associated with that. I don't want to get in cross wires with the bankers. But it is a tangible demonstration of support for Lebanon.

QUESTION: Sean, are you confident in the stability of Siniora's government? You said his standing is quite strong? I know there were some concerns awhile back about his government being toppled. Are you guys confident that he can stay in power?

MR. MCCORMACK: We're confident that he has been a tenacious advocate for freedom and political reform in Lebanon and we are going to continue to support him. We believe that he has the support of large swaths of the Lebanese population, despite the best efforts of countries like Syria and Iran and their proxies, Hezbollah, the Siniora government has continued to govern in the face of difficult challenges by those groups, by those countries who want to turn the clock back in Lebanon. And Prime Minister Siniora I think has earned the respect of other leaders around the world and that respect has manifested itself today in Paris with the donations that you've seen.

QUESTION: Could I just -- one more, just --


QUESTION: I mean, do you still have concerns though, first as against him toppling his government?

MR. MCCORMACK: Certainly we are concerned that those who want to turn the clock back. And it's our job as an international system to do everything that we possibly can to see that that does not happen, that the role of the Lebanese people for economic political reform and a better day for Lebanon to succeed.

QUESTION: But, can I --

MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah. Go ahead, Charlie.

QUESTION: Well, I want to follow up on part of it which is that earlier you made a comment to irresponsible parties --


QUESTION: -- in talking about today's activities.


QUESTION: And you didn't name anybody in particular. And just now in answer to the last question you mentioned Syria, Hezbollah. Do you include the Government of Syria in terms of irresponsible parties in today's activities?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, I'm trying to make a -- excuse me -- a settle point and that is that I can't tell you exactly who is responsible for fomenting the violence at the university today in Beirut. But what I'm trying to indicate is that the atmosphere that allowed that to move forward was created by those parties like Hezbollah and their outside supporters, Iran and Syria. They have created an atmosphere of political tension in Lebanon where they have directly challenge the role of the Lebanese people for political and economic reform and for freeing the Lebanese people and their country from the oppression that they lived with for 20 years during Syrian occupation. So that's -- I'm trying to get at the point, they have created this atmosphere in which these kinds of political tensions have now begun to manifest themselves in violence in the streets.

Yeah, Elise.

QUESTION: Sean, you have the violence on the streets which seems much more of an urgent, immediate problem than the money that you're pledging today is ultimately for long term reconstruction to help the government with the debt problems, strengthen its hand on the government. But I mean, how can you help with the situation that's on the ground today to prevent it from overtaking the kind of seeds that you're sowing right now for the long term stability of it?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, in the immediate term, it's the Lebanese security forces that are going to have to deal with the current tensions and the Lebanese political leadership. Now, I understand that across the board, the political leadership has called for calm in Lebanon and certainly that is an important action. But in the immediate term, it is going to have to be the Lebanese that deal with the violence that you're seeing in Beirut.

QUESTION: Three or four months ago, the -- maybe a bit longer - the White House and yourself issued, this is to follow on from Libby's question --


QUESTION: -- issued a very strong statement saying that you feared for Siniora's -- Prime Minister Siniora's life and that there were forces working to get him, basically. Do you still stand by that statement?


QUESTION: Is the situation still the same or is it even more dire than when you --

MR. MCCORMACK: It hasn't -- I can't tell you if it's anymore dire at the moment. But certainly, there are forces that want to stop progress towards a free democratic prosperous Lebanon. We've seen that. We've seen them assassinate and attempt to kill numerous individuals. They succeeded in killing a former prime minister. They succeeded in killing people like Pierre Gemayel. And we have no reason to believe that that threat has abated in any way. It is I suspect that that threat will continue while those forces that are responsible for violent actions feel threatened by things like UN Security Council Resolution 1559, 1701 and the International Tribunal that is going to bring to justice those responsible for the murder for former Prime Minister Hariri. So as long as those -- I would suggest to you, as long as those threats remain to those individuals who are responsible for this violence, then the threat of violence will likely continue.

QUESTION: But do you think it was a good idea for him to leave his country at this time to go to Paris? I mean, doesn't the threat that -- of him being out of the country that things could become even more difficult for him?

MR. MCCORMACK: He's the head of government. He has to be able to represent the Lebanese Government and the Lebanese people. And we think that it is absolutely appropriate and right for him to represent Lebanon and a hopeful future for Lebanon in Paris today.


QUESTION: Sean, how does the U.S. read reports that Saudi Arabia and Iran are basically intensifying efforts to broker a solution in Lebanon?

MR. MCCORMACK: Look. If we are regional actors who want to play a positive role in Lebanon in trying to help the Lebanese reach the political accommodations that they need to reach in order to move their political process forward, then certainly, that is positive. Amr Mussa has made very, very public efforts in that regard. He has briefed Secretary Rice on those efforts, so we're fully cognizant of those.

If there are other efforts, then certainly, that would be positive as long as they are welcomed by the Lebanese Government. What would be of great concern to us as well as others would be any attempts to negotiate or broker solutions over the head of the Lebanese people and not with the full consent and participation of the Siniora government.

QUESTION: Has the Saudi Arabian authorities been keeping you -- keeping the United States informed about such diplomatic efforts?

MR. MCCORMACK: They can speak for themselves about what they may or may not be involved in.

QUESTION: Are you going to see any positive action to come from Iran regarding the Hezbollah in Lebanon?

MR. MCCORMACK: Have we seen anything?

QUESTION: Are you -- do you expect anything like that?

MR. MCCORMACK: They have, over the past 20 years or so --

QUESTION: No, any positive action?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, let me just -- let me put it in historical context for you. They -- Iran helped create Hezbollah and they have continued to support Hezbollah during the 20-plus years that they helped create it. And I don't, at this point, see any intention on the Iranians' part, at least any sort of public intention, to try to play a more positive role via Hezbollah in Lebanon's future.

State Department Spokesman on Lebanon Donors Conference

US Depatment of State
Press Briefing
Sean McCormack, Spokesman
Washington, DC
January 24, 2007
MR. MCCORMACK: Good afternoon, everybody. Let me just go through a little bit of the Secretary's activities. As you know, she is on her way to Paris at the moment. Nicholas, I'm surprised to see you here. You're missing Paris.

She is on her way to Paris. She'll be getting into Paris 9 o'clock or so tonight local time. Tomorrow she will have the -- attend the Lebanon donors conference that is being hosted by the French Government. She will also have a meeting with Prime Minister Siniora and some American CEOs. And I wanted to bring this to your attention because this is actually a really very interesting part of our support for Lebanon and the Lebanese people, and that is that you have direct governmental assistance, and Secretary Rice is going to talk about the substantial pledge that we are going to be making at this conference, but there is also another important element to what the United States is doing to support the Lebanese people. And that is the private sector commitment to investment in Lebanon and that's what these CEOs are going to be talking about. Dina Powell is one of our assistant secretaries over here, as well as Randy Tobias went to Lebanon several months ago with the CEOs to talk about this important program. And it's important in a number of different respects.

But I would underscore this. That is, long after direct U.S. Government assistance has gone through the pipeline and been delivered, investment by foreign companies and U.S. companies is going to continue to create jobs and opportunity in Lebanon and those places where U.S. -- the U.S. companies have made a commitment to support, countries that are trying to get back up on their feet. Another example is Pakistan in those earthquake zones. I think you all remember that trip.

So I wanted to highlight that for you.

QUESTION: Can I ask one about the trip?

MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah, sure.

QUESTION: Do you expect any of the CEOs to make any announcements about a particular investment, particular jobs they might be creating working with Lebanese companies, or are they there just sort of for moral support?

MR. MCCORMACK: I think they'll have something to say about their commitment to the Lebanese people, but I'm not going to try to steal their thunder. You can tune in tomorrow.

QUESTION: Okay. So I mean, it's not a sort of general --

MR. MCCORMACK: It's not just talk. They're actually -- they're acting.


MR. MCCORMACK: And I think that's a really -- that's really a great part about this effort is that, as I underscored, long after U.S. Government assistance and other direct government assistance has been pledged and delivered and had its effect, those kinds of foreign investments on the ground are going to have continuing effects and you're going to get a multiplier effect through job creation and building up industries in places like Lebanon. So it's a terribly important part, component of the overall effort of the United States, not just the United States Government but the United States and the commitment to helping these countries that are really fighting against the forces of violent extremism around the world.

QUESTION: Is it -- I know that you don't want to talk numbers today, but is it fair to say that the Secretary will make a commitment in the hundreds of thousands of dollars? Is that a --

MR. MCCORMACK: Hundreds of thousands? Hundreds of thousands? We can do better than that. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Hundreds of millions. I'm sorry.

MR. MCCORMACK: It's going to be substantial. It'll be substantial. I don't want to get into it. She'll talk about it. She'll talk about it.

QUESTION: A prestigious Lebanese daily quoting State Department officials that the Secretary will make a commitment up to $700 million. Can you deny that? (Laughter.)

MR. MCCORMACK: I'm going to let the Secretary make the announcements on that. It's a pretty big number though, isn't it?


QUESTION: You talked about Dina Powell's and Randy Tobias's trip. Why was she going? She's the Assistant Secretary for Education and Cultural Affairs.

MR. MCCORMACK: Exchanges. This is something that the -- our group of people here, Karen Hughes' shop and Dina have been deeply involved in, in terms of public-private partnerships. It is something that -- you know, from the very beginning, the Secretary was interested in promoting. We talked about this, actually, during the transition period and she looked to Karen and Dina, really, to follow through on that and they've done a great job in that regard, in terms of engaging U.S. industry in issues that are of interest to them as well as interests -- issues of interest to us.

They recently had a public-private partnership summit regarding public diplomacy and the interest of -- you know, these American corporations in doing -- seeing what they can do to assist in those efforts. That was just, I think, a week or two ago. So that's -- there are a few examples. You can kind of go down the list and see it, but that's -- the reason why is -- you know, the Secretary saw this, really, as something that fell within the realm of public diplomacy. They, of course, work closely with -- you know, Dan Sullivan and our Under Secretary for Economic and Business Affairs on these things as well.

QUESTION: Just one last one on Lebanon, sorry if I'm monopolizing, but there were reports from the region that Prince Bandar of Saudi Arabia and Mr. Larijani of Iran are negotiating a sort of unity government in Lebanon. Do you know anything about these talks that have been going on and do you support a government different from the current government of Prime Minister Siniora?

MR. MCCORMACK: A couple things. One, I've seen all the press reports about Mr. Larijani visiting Saudi Arabia. I'll let the Saudis and the Iranians talk about what they talked about. I don't think anybody wants -- anybody supports -- I don't think the Saudis would support this, as well, anybody negotiating over the heads of the Lebanese people or the Siniora government.

Now Amr Mussa has had an effort working with the various political factions within Lebanon about ways that they might -- ways to -- ways out of the current political impasse that they find themselves in. But this isn't negotiating over the heads of the Siniora government or anybody else. This is -- we're trying to work with them to see what they can do, lend their good offices to that effort. Secretary Rice has talked to Amr Mussa about this. She talked to him about it in Washington as well as in Cairo when she was -- or Luxor, excuse me, when she was there.

So these are -- those are efforts, certainly, that we're well aware of. I don't think anybody -- we certainly wouldn't support any effort to try to negotiate something over and above the heads of the Siniora government.

QUESTION: Well, it's very difficult to imagine that the Iranians who are part of this would be willing to -- or would be interested in preserving this government, given that the Hezbollah doesn't agree to this government staying in office. So what is your understanding of what exactly they're negotiating?

MR. MCCORMACK: Nicholas, I can tell you, you talk to them and -- you know, I'm not in any way going to confirm the substance of this particular report because I can't. I don't have any information on it. As for your point about whether or not Iran would support the Siniora government, I think that that -- that the reality of it is they probably wouldn't because their proxies, Hezbollah, are doing everything they can to undermine the Siniora government out in the streets of Beirut and otherwise.

And their motivations really lie in doing what they can at the behest of the Iranians and the Syrian Government to try to stop any forward progress on this -- on the Hariri tribunal as well as stop any progress to Lebanon fully getting on its feet and really putting the past of Syrian domination behind them.

Yeah, Sylvie.

QUESTION: But to follow up on that, would the U.S. Government be ready to work with a national unity government in Lebanon, including Hezbollah?

MR. MCCORMACK: We don't meet with Hezbollah ministers. There are Hezbollah ministers in the current government. We don't meet with them.

QUESTION: So it's not a problem if they are more --

MR. MCCORMACK: We're not going to change that -- again, we're not going to change that policy. We support the elected government of Lebanon led by Prime Minister Siniora. As for any political arrangements or accommodations that Prime Minister Siniora might come to with the various factions in Lebanon, those are going to be decisions for him to make. But we won't work with individual ministers from Hezbollah and we won't meet with them.


QUESTION: Do you have any comment on the Lebanese army role played yesterday during the demonstrations?

MR. MCCORMACK: In what regard?

QUESTION: The Lebanese army -- what did he do yesterday during the demonstrations? He left demonstrators, cut the roads, put blocks on the road and something like that.

MR. MCCORMACK: Michel, I'd have to look into it for you. I'm happy to work with you afterwards and look into it.

QUESTION: I'm just wondering, the Secretary didn't stop in Beirut on her last trip and with this building over the past few months -- well, since the summer, I'm just wondering why she didn't go.

MR. MCCORMACK: She stops in places where she thinks that regarding the timing and the contents of the visit, she can do some good work. She's been in good, constant contact with Prime Minister Siniora. I think her support for this government and those forces for freedom and democracy in Lebanon is quite clear. I'm sure she's going to go back to Beirut. She's been there a couple of times already during her tenure as Secretary of State and I expect she'll go back.

QUESTION: So you don't think that a stop last time would have been able to prevent the upheaval we're seeing right now?

MR. MCCORMACK: You know, because look, these -- what you're seeing manifested in the streets of Beirut is an effort to sidetrack Lebanon from the direction in which it's headed right now. And that direction is a more stable, democratic, prosperous Lebanon. They are trying to distract the world's attention from the fact that those forces started a war with another country in that region that cost the Lebanese people dearly. They made a lot of promises about reconstruction and getting international assistance to ironically help rebuild those things that were destroyed by the war that they started. They haven't come through on those promises.

So as a result this is -- what you're seeing is actions designed to distract the Lebanese people from those facts and they're also designed to try to undermine the efforts of this government, Prime Minister Siniora's government, to move forward on the Hariri tribunal so that the Lebanese people can know who murdered their former Prime Minister. I think they have a real interest in that. But there are people in Lebanon and outside of Lebanon who don't want to see that go forward. And so again that's another reason why you see these demonstrations in the streets. So what we think we can do is we can rally the forces of the international system to support this government and the good work that it's doing on behalf of the Lebanese people.

Yeah, Elise.

QUESTION: What do you make of the argument that the donors conference and all this international support is competing with a country like Iran that's pumping a lot of cash into Hezbollah for reconstruction of that country and it's really a battle for hearts and minds in Lebanon between the West and the moderates and Iran who's furthering this kind of extremism?

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, I think it's no secret that there are -- if you look around the Middle East, including in Lebanon, that there is a ideological struggle that is ongoing in the Middle East. You can see it in places like Lebanon. You can see the forces of violent extremism at work in Lebanon and they are -- in 2006 they punch back. The forces of freedom and democracy in Lebanon had a good year in 2005, but the forces of violent extremism punched back in 2006. And our job as an international system and our job as a country that has an interest in seeing greater freedom and democracy in the Middle East and an interest in supporting the Lebanese people in their struggle for a more stable prosperous state is to stand with them and make it clear to the Lebanese people and make it clear to those forces of violent extremism that we are going to stand in their way. We're going to stand in their way in their efforts to bring about a Middle East that is more that is more oppressive, that is less prosperous and is going in the opposite direction from the rest of the world.

QUESTION: But just to follow up very quickly -- but can you fight this battle, like in the pocketbook? I mean --

MR. MCCORMACK: Well, that's -- I made this point the other day that you shouldn't just look at the Lebanon donor's conference as people making pledges and signing checks. That's important. It's important in a couple of ways. One, it actually can help the Lebanese people rebuild some of that infrastructure and build their country, so there are real physical effects on the ground. But there's also an important political and diplomatic statement that that makes. Just the fact that you have this conference and you have these countries gathering together at a very high level, President Chirac convened this conference, there are going to be a number of countries represented at senior ministerial levels that demonstrates the support of the international system for what Prime Minister Siniora and his government is trying to do on behalf of the Lebanese people. So it is as much a statement of political and diplomatic support as anything else.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

United States Condemns Violence in Lebanon

US Department of State
Press Statement                                                               
Sean McCormack                                                                
Washington, DC                                                                
January 23, 2007                                                               
The United States is deeply concerned about developments today in Lebanon.    
Lebanese factions allied with Syria are blocking roads, preventing people from
reaching their jobs and schools, and obstructing the work of the security     
services. These factions are trying to use violence, threats, and intimidation
to impose their political will on Lebanon. They also seek to distract attention
from the Paris III conference to be held later this week, where international 
donors will demonstrate their strong support for the people and government of 
Lebanon. Especially given the dangers of sectarian clashes, the United States 
calls on all parties to use peaceful and constitutional means to debate the   
political issues before them, and to exercise restraint. Lebanon is a democracy
with a strong parliamentary system and a tradition of national dialogue. The  
United States hopes that Lebanon's leaders will return immediately to the     
Parliament, or resume a national dialogue, in order to resolve political      
differences peacefully.                                                        
Released on January 23, 2007