Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Statement to the Press of Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Michèle Flournoy

US Embassy Release September 22, 2010.
Let me begin by thanking Prime Minister Hariri for his courtesy and hospitality during my visit to Lebanon today. This is my first official visit to Lebanon. I had a productive meeting with the Prime Minister and look forward to meeting with officials from the Ministry of Defense and UNIFIL later today.
I came to Lebanon to reiterate to Prime Minster Hariri and the government of Lebanon that the United States remains fully committed to Lebanese sovereignty, political independence, and territorial integrity and the full implementation of Security Council resolutions 1559, 1680, and 1701. We remain determined to work with the Lebanese government to extend its authority over all of Lebanon, and to advance political and economic reforms that benefit the people of Lebanon.

This commitment includes U.S. support to the Lebanese Armed Forces, which is part of an international effort to help strengthen the institutions of the Lebanese state and the ability of the Lebanese Government to exercise its sovereignty and authority over all of its territory. We are working closely with members of the U.S. Congress to resolve the concerns they have over this assistance.

All of our bilateral security and economic assistance to Lebanon serves to deepen our partnership with the Lebanese government and to help build the strong state institutions that must act as the guarantor of Lebanon’s future. A strong, sovereign, stable Lebanon is vital to the stability of the entire region and is in the interest of everyone -- the country of Lebanon, the region, the United States and the international community as a whole.

Thank you all very much.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Statement to the Press by Special Envoy George J. Mitchell

US Embassy Release September 17, 2010, Presidential Palace, Baabda, Lebanon.

Let me begin by thanking President Sleiman and the other officials of the government of Lebanon, with whom I’ve met for their courtesy and hospitality.

The purpose of my visit has been to update the President of Lebanon and other senior officials on the status of the Palestinian-Israeli talks and to consult with Lebanon’s leaders and United Nations officials on peacekeeping matters and the full implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701.

I made clear my firm belief that comprehensive peace will travel the full distance from hope to reality. As President Obama has said, comprehensive peace includes Palestinian-Israeli peace, but also Syria and Israel, and also Lebanon and Israel agreeing to peace, as well as the full normalization of relations between Israel and its neighbors. That’s the vision at the heart of the Arab Peace Initiative that was signed here in Beirut in 2002.

We are aware of the challenges, the obstacles and the many difficulties. But as difficult as this task may be, the alternative to peace is far worse. So we have no choice but to work together as friends and allies for a better future for this region and all of its people. There are some who are determined to disrupt these efforts. We are determined to see this process through.

We believe that Lebanon is a vital part of the comprehensive Middle East peace that President Obama seeks and that the Arab Peace Initiative calls for.

The United States has great respect for Lebanon’s sovereignty and for Lebanon’s role in comprehensive peace. As I have said previously, the United States does not and will not support the forced naturalization of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon.

The central point, however, is that without Lebanon there will not be comprehensive peace in this region. In my discussions with Lebanese leaders and United Nations officials, I have also focused on peacekeeping issues. United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701 calls, among other things, for a permanent ceasefire between Lebanon and Israel, and for the area south of the Litani River to be free of any armed personnel, assets and weapons other than those of the Government of Lebanon and UNIFIL. I have assured Lebanese leaders and United Nations officials of our full and active and support for the attainment of these objectives for the complete implementation of that resolution.

Moreover, I have assured the senior leaders of this country of our strong desire to maintain a close relationship with the Lebanese Armed Forces. The Lebanese Armed Forces is the symbol of one, united Lebanon, and plays a large part in the hopes and aspirations of the Lebanese people.

Finally, on a personal note, I would like to note with great pleasure the arrival of Ambassador Connelly as the new ambassador of the United States to Lebanon. She is a person with whom I have worked closely for some time and for whom I have the highest admiration and respect. I am certain that our two governments and two peoples will benefit immeasurably from her service here in Lebanon. Welcome, Ambassador Connelly.

I very much look forward to continuing my discussions with President Sleiman and other Lebanese leaders in the future. I just told the President that we will keep him and this government fully informed at all stages of this process and we will make certain that Lebanese sovereignty is protected. We hope very much to be part of an effort that ends by producing comprehensive peace in the region, for all people and all countries, including Lebanon.

Thank you all very much.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon Maura Connelly Presents Credentials to President Sleiman

US Embassy Press Releases September 15, 2010.
The new U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon, Maura Connelly, presented her diplomatic credentials to Lebanese President Michel Sleiman today at ceremonies at Baabda Palace. Ambassador Connelly arrived in Lebanon on September 13, 2010, following unanimous confirmation of her appointment by the U.S. Senate on August 5.

“I was delighted today to meet President Sleiman and to present my diplomatic credentials,” Ambassador Connelly said. “It is a great honor for me to serve as the U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon. Our commitment to a sovereign, independent Lebanon, with strong and effective state institutions, remains the Embassy’s most important priority. I look forward to strengthening the deep, historical partnership between the United States and Lebanon.”

Ambassador Connelly is a member of the U.S. Senior Foreign Service with extensive experience in the region. She was most recently a Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs. Prior to that, Ambassador Connelly was the Chargé d’Affaires for the U.S. Embassy in Damascus, Syria. Ambassador Connelly previously served as the Political Minister-Counselor for the U.S. Embassy in London, U.K. and was the Deputy Principal Officer at the U.S. Consulate General in Jerusalem. She was also the Deputy Counselor for Political Affairs for the U.S. Mission to the United Nations in New York. Her other overseas postings include Jordan, Algeria and South Africa.

Ambassador Connelly received a B.S. in Foreign Service from Georgetown University and a Masters in National Security Studies from the U.S. Naval War College.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

U.S. Congressional Delegation Meets with Prime Minister Hariri and Defense Minister Murr

On September 2, 2010, a congressional delegation headed by U.S. Representative Jim Marshall of Georgia visited Lebanon. The delegation held discussions with Prime Minister Saad Hariri and Minister of Defense Elias El-Murr on the U.S.-Lebanese relationship. During the visit, the delegation reaffirmed the United States' commitment to supporting a strong, independent, and democratic Lebanon.
Representative Marshall is a Member of the House Armed Services Committee. He was joined by Representatives Jane Harman of California, Peter Welch of Vermont, Charles Dent of Pennsylvania and Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming.