Thursday, May 24, 2007

Secretary Rice on Lebanon with Greta Van Susteren of Fox News

Interview With Greta Van Susteren of Fox News                               
Secretary Condoleezza Rice                                                    
Simi Valley, California                                                       
May 23, 2007     
QUESTION: Lebanon -- is there any rule for us in Lebanon? The Palestinians are
now trying to leave the area, trying to find safety. Is there anything we can 
do to help?                                                                   
SECRETARY RICE: Well, we've been very supportive of the government of Fouad   
Siniora. It's the elected Government of Lebanon. It's a democratic government.
It's a government that is trying to do the right things to establish          
sovereignty and democracy for Lebanon. And so we have been supportive of their
efforts to deal with this very extreme terrorist group that is operating in   
these camps. We've helped with a number of other international actors to reform
and strengthen the Lebanese Armed Forces and hopefully, they will prevail. I  
think it's very important that the Lebanese Government be able to deal with the
QUESTION: When you say we're helping, what are we doing? I mean, as a practical
matter, how do we help? We just receive phone calls and say, "Yes, we're with 
you?" Or what do we actually do?                                              
SECRETARY RICE: Well, some of it is political support, because this is a      
government that is very much under fire from extremist forces, and also from  
some of their terrible neighbors, like Syria and Iran. Syria occupied Lebanon 
with its forces for 30 years. And thanks to work by the United States, France,
the Security Council, Syria was essentially expelled from Lebanon a couple of 
years ago and Lebanon now has sovereignty. So we've helped in that way.       
We've also helped economically. I went to a conference in Paris that raised   
over $7 billion for this Lebanese Government and the United States has given  
generously to Lebanon. We have a $770 million package for Lebanon in this     
latest supplemental. So we really are great supporters of the Lebanese people,
because the Lebanese Government is making the right choices for democracy.    
QUESTION: Is Syria behind this? Are they stirring up the current trouble? I   
mean, we have 100 percent level of confidence that they're the ones that are  
helping to fund this?                                                         
SECRETARY RICE: Well, we can't be certain who's behind it, but these are      
clearly parties that do not want to see the Lebanese Government succeed and   
that want to cause trouble in these very desperate Palestinian refugee camps, 
where people don't live very well, and where there is extremism. But whether  
there are foreign influences involved here, I can't say. But Syria has been a 
source of conflict and a source of trouble for Lebanon for decades.