Tuesday, November 23, 2010

CENTCOM Commander General James N. Mattis Visits Lebanon.

US Embassy Press Release, Beirut (Nov. 19, 2010) – U.S. Central Command Commander General James N. Mattis made his first visit to Beirut, Lebanon today and met with Lebanon’s senior government leadership.

During his visit, Gen. Mattis met with President Michel Sleiman, Minister of Defense Elias Murr, and Lebanese Armed Forces Commander Lieutenant General Jean Kahwagi. He also met with the U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon, Ambassador Maura Connelly, and embassy staff.

Upon his departure, Gen Mattis provided the following statement:

General Mattis thanked President Sleiman, Minister Murr, and General Kahwagi for their courtesy and hospitality during his visit to Lebanon today. He gained a deep appreciation of the views and perspectives of these senior leaders.

General Mattis came to Lebanon to reiterate to the Lebanese people, the Lebanese Armed Forces and the Government of Lebanon the U.S. government’s position that the United States is committed to the continuity of CENTCOM’s relationship with the LAF and to supporting legitimate institutions of the Lebanese state. As General Mattis discussed with the President, the Minister of Defense and General Kahwagi, U.S. support for the Lebanese Armed Forces is a key aspect of our wide-ranging support to the Government of Lebanon. General Mattis was also pleased that the U.S. Congress recently reaffirmed its commitment to security assistance to Lebanon. President Obama continues to believe that U.S. support to the LAF is part of an international commitment to enable the Lebanese Government to exercise its sovereignty and authority over all of its Territory in accordance UNSCRs 1559 and 1701.

As Ambassador Connelly has said, the U.S. believes its assistance to the LAF contributes to improving regional stability and is clearly in the interests of the Lebanese people of the United States. General Mattis pledged to continue to support training and engagement assistance to the LAF in order to build greater military capacity and deepen our relationship.

The U.S. has provided $720 million in security assistance since 2005 to equip and train the LAF as tangible evidence of the United State’s commitment to Lebanon. The U.S. government believes our assistance to Lebanon has served to deepen our partnership and help ensure the viability of the institutions that will serve as the guarantors of Lebanon’s future. A strong, sovereign, stable Lebanon is in everyone’s interest - - the Lebanese people, the region, the United States and the international community as a whole.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Statement by the President for Lebanon's Independence Day on November 22nd

Office of the Press Secretary
November 22, 2010, On behalf of the American people, I offer my deepest congratulations to President Sleiman, Speaker Berri, Prime Minister Hariri, and all citizens of Lebanon on the occasion of Lebanon's Independence Day. This celebration comes at a particularly opportune time, in light of the challenges Lebanon currently faces. This important day exemplifies Lebanon's sovereignty, independence, and national and cultural identity. The United States is committed to strengthening these characteristics through support of Lebanon's state institutions and voices of peace and moderation.

We are grateful to the Government of Lebanon for its steadfast leadership under difficult circumstances. It has shown vision in its search for peace, stability, and consensus. We continue to support the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, which will end the era of political assassinations with impunity in Lebanon. Lebanon and its children need a future where they can fulfill their dreams free of fear and intimidation.

I am committed to doing everything I can to support Lebanon and ensure it remains free from foreign interference, terrorism, and war. Lebanon deserves peace and prosperity, and those who believe otherwise are no friend to Lebanon. I hope you will carry this message to your friends and family. Lebanon has fought enough fights. The only way ahead is for all Lebanese to work together, not against each other, for a sovereign and independent Lebanon that enjoys both justice and stability.

Lebanon's multi-ethnic democratic system ensures representation by all of Lebanon's different religious and ethnic backgrounds. This unique facet sets Lebanon apart and has allowed Lebanese citizens to flourish and build their country and the rich tapestry that is Lebanese society. It is much the same in our own country, where Lebanese-Americans have for generations contributed deeply to the American community, economy, and culture through their leadership in Congress, the business world, the U.S. military, and even in my cabinet. We salute Lebanon today for its greatest resource - its people - and wish all of Lebanon a happy Independence Day.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Secretary's Remarks: Lebanon's National Day‏.

November 20, 2010. On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I congratulate the people of Lebanon on the anniversary of your independence this November 22.

The Lebanese people have honored the ideals of freedom and self-determination throughout decades of strife and external pressures. The United States and Lebanon have a long history of friendship and cooperation in the face of such challenges. I was delighted to experience that friendship in person last year during my visit to your country to express our steadfast support for Lebanon and the Lebanese people.

Today, we again affirm the commitment of the United States to an independent, sovereign, and unified Lebanon with strong and effective state institutions. We firmly believe that preserving a peaceful, prosperous, democratic, and stable Lebanon is essential for the security of the Lebanese people, and for the region more broadly.

I wish the people of Lebanon a happy independence day. We will continue working to deepen cooperation between our countries and build a future defined by freedom, security, and prosperity for all people.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

State Department Press Release: Israel Accepts UNIFIL Proposal for Withdrawal from Ghajar‏

Philip J. Crowley
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Public Affairs
Washington, DC
November 17, 2010
The United States welcomes the announcement today by Israel’s Security Cabinet that it accepts in principle the proposal offered by the UNIFIL Force Commander, providing for the complete withdrawal of Israeli military forces from Lebanese territory in and around the village of Ghajar. The United States encourages Israel and the UN to complete the technical details necessary to implement this proposal rapidly and thereby protect the rights of the affected civilians and further the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701 (2006), which aims for a permanent ceasefire between Israel and Lebanon.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Berman lifts hold on military assistance to Lebanon

Friday, November 12, 2010 Washington - Congressman Howard L. Berman, chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today released the following statement on lifting a hold on military assistance to Lebanon:

"On August 2, I placed a hold on a $100 million spending plan for military assistance for the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) out of concern that this plan did not reflect changing political realities in Lebanon. The following day, August 3, a shooting initiated by the LAF on its southern border, resulting in the needless death of an Israeli soldier, further complicated the situation; Israeli restraint prevented that situation from getting out of hand.

"In response to our hold, the Administration initiated a thorough, inter-agency review of its military assistance program for Lebanon. I have been fully briefed, in a classified setting, on the results of that review. As a result, I am convinced that implementation of the spending plan will now have greater focus, and I am re-assured as to the nature and purposes of the proposed package. I also understand that the LAF has taken important steps to prevent recurrence of dangerous and provocative actions like that which occurred August 3. I have also been given reason for confidence that assistance to the LAF has not fallen into the hands of Hezbollah and that every possible measure is being taken by Lebanese and American authorities to prevent that from happening. As a result of these assurances, I am lifting the hold on the $100 million spending plan for the LAF.

"I continue to be concerned about developments in Lebanon, and I will continue my ongoing discussions with State regarding the optimal contours of future military assistance for Lebanon. Some of the key elements of the current package are not yet ready for actual delivery to the LAF and will be further notified to Congress prior to actual delivery. We will, of course, further assess the situation at that time."

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton Interview With Hisham Melhem of An-Nahar

Department of State Press Release Nov 10 2010.

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, recently, we have seen increased American focus on Lebanon, including your call to Prime Minister Hariri, additional funds for the STL, and stepped up criticism of Syria, Iran and Hezbollah. Is this driven mainly by the visit of Iranian president Ahmadinejad as some Lebanese are alleging, or caused by concern that Lebanon could unravel?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you for the question. First, let me say that America’s support for a sovereign, independent, and stable Lebanon is rock solid and unwavering. We are committed to a strong partnership with Lebanon and to Lebanon’s future, and we stay in close contact with Lebanon’s leaders and consult with them regularly. That is also why the United States will continue to speak out against those who would undermine Lebanon’s stability and its sovereignty.

We will continue to encourage actors within Lebanon and across the region to act responsibly and in the best interests of the Lebanese people. When a party makes inflammatory statements or violates international norms, we feel it is important to say, publicly, what we believe to be true: responsible actors on the international stage should work to help resolve conflicts, not reignite them. They need to uphold their commitments and responsibilities, not seek to evade them. And responsible actors in Lebanon need to pursue their political agendas through peaceful means, not via intimidation or threats.

Of course, the President and I also respect the leadership demonstrated by President Suleiman and Prime Minister Hariri, especially during this challenging period. And I have reaffirmed this recently in conversations I have had with both the President and the Prime Minister.

QUESTION: What can the U.S. do in practical terms to help the Lebanese government fend off the campaign waged by Hezbollah and Syria to undermine and discredit the STL as an Israeli-American plot, now that Hezbollah is using "the multitudes" against the STL's investigators as we have seen recently.

SECRETARY CLINTON: The recent assault on Tribunal investigators, which you alluded to, should be of grave concern to all Lebanon’s friends and supporters. Strong statements were made at the UN and elsewhere condemning any actions that attempt to frustrate or undermine the Tribunal and its work. Intimidation and interference should not be tolerated.

The problem in Lebanon is not the Special Tribunal for Lebanon. The problem is that some are threatening violence in order to try to stop justice. The Special Tribunal is an independent judicial entity, established in response to a terrible time in Lebanon’s history by an agreement between the Lebanese government and the United Nations, and brought into force by a UN Security Council Resolution with wide international support. Its work is legitimate and necessary.

We should not lose sight of the fact that the Tribunal symbolizes something larger than the investigation into the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri. It represents a chance for Lebanon to begin moving beyond its long history of political violence. Tragically, Lebanese of all communities and confessions have been plagued for years by violence and threats. And yet very few have ever been held accountable for their crimes. This history is a major source of instability and the tension that people in Lebanon feel today. They deserve a return to the rule of law and justice for all – these are crucial building blocks for stability and peace in Lebanon.

QUESTION: There is concern in Lebanon and the region, that if the STL issued indictments against some Hezbollah operatives or leaders, that Hezbollah would resort to force as it did in 2008 to create new facts on the ground. What would the US do in this case?

SECRETARY CLINTON: First, it bears repeating that no one knows what the Special Tribunal is going to do, who it might indict, or when it might choose to move forward. This is an independent process. Hezbollah should know that resorting once again to violence in Lebanon runs completely counter to the interests of the Lebanese people, the interests of the region, and of the United States. They should also know that if the goal of violence is to stop the tribunal, it won’t work. And more importantly, there is simply no justification or excuse for more political violence. That is the position of the United States and it will not change.

QUESTION: There is concern in Lebanon that the country could pay a steep price if it became an arena for renewed regional and international conflicts, and that the U.S. may not appreciate fully the inherent danger in such a situation.

SECRETARY CLINTON: We know this is not the first time Lebanon has faced real challenges and rising tensions. The Lebanese people have shed too many tears and buried too many loved ones. They deserve lasting peace and an end to political violence once and for all. The United States is committed to that goal, and we will continue supporting the Lebanese Armed Forces to ensure they have the capacity to protect Lebanon’s security from threats both internal and external. We also work hard to avoid actions or statements that would raise temperatures higher or inflame tensions further.

Lebanon has many friends, in addition to the United States, who are strong supporters of its sovereignty and security. We are in frequent contact with our friends and allies about how we can work together to support the Lebanese people and their elected government.

President Suleiman, of course, came to power after the Doha Agreement of 2008, and as his election showed, he has widespread support in Lebanon. He is in a position to help unify Lebanon and maintain the country’s peace and stability.

QUESTION: Where is the policy of engaging Syria heading? After almost 20 months, Syria's behavior and policies in Lebanon, Palestine and Iraq have not been altered, and its alliance with Iran is as strong as ever. It seems that the Syrians believe that there are no disincentives or consequences for them to desist.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Syria’s behavior has not met our hopes and expectations over the past 20 months – and Syria’s actions have not met its international obligations. Syria can still choose another path and we hope that it does.

Let me be clear – we are not engaging for engagement’s sake. We are engaging to advance our interests and to find areas where cooperation can promote mutual interests. Our engagement with Syria will never come at Lebanon’s expense. Nor will it come at the expense of holding Syria accountable for its behavior.

We have had some useful conversations – for example, Special Envoy George Mitchell has engaged with Syria on the Middle East peace progress, and my Assistant Secretary Jeff Feltman has had good consultations with Syrian officials about Iraq. And our engagement has enabled us to present Syria’s leaders, and the Syrian people, with a more balanced and optimistic vision for the region’s future than the messages of war and destruction carried by Iran and Hezbollah.

But we have also had some very difficult discussions with Damascus about its actions in Lebanon and elsewhere. Syria lives with consequences of pursuing policies that are outside established international norms – which is largely why the region’s economic development of the past decade has left Syria behind. So again, as I said, the choice is up to Syria – and we hope that it chooses to embrace its responsibilities.

QUESTION: What is the status of your contacts with Congress, regarding lifting the hold on supplying U.S weapons to the Lebanese Armed Forces? Do you expect the “lame duck” Congress will do that, and are you concern that the Republican House will continue the hold?

SECRETARY CLINTON: It has been our longstanding policy to support the Lebanese Armed Forces. The LAF helps to ensure stability and protect the people of Lebanon. It is a truly national institution and a strong symbol of national unity, which includes members of all of Lebanon’s diverse faiths and communities. It is representative and accountable. We look forward to continuing to work with Congress to maintain this support, which we believe is in the best interests of the Lebanese people and contributes to stability in Lebanon and in the region.

QUESTION: The U.S. and Syria have been exchanging accusations of meddling in domestic Lebanese affairs, but Syria's friends in Lebanon always claim that the U.S talks the talk but it does not walk the walk, and that its allies in Lebanon cannot be sure it will not enter into bargains, including with Syria at their expense.

SECRETARY CLINTON: America’s support for a sovereign, independent Lebanon is a key element of our policy in the region. It is non-negotiable. It is not something we are prepared to bargain with or exchange. It is as simple as that. We have been clear about this commitment and transparent in our relations with the Lebanese government. That stands in stark contrast to others, including certain internal actors in Lebanon, whose actions are neither transparent nor accountable to the proper national authorities.

We will continue our policy of supporting the independence of the Lebanese state and strengthening Lebanese institutions, and we will raise our concerns about Syrian interference in Lebanon during our continuing discussions with Damascus.

QUESTION: To what extent could Syria's behavior in Lebanon influence America's efforts to revive the Syrian-Israeli track? Can Syria expect to re-engage in peace negotiations without altering its posture vis-à-vis Iran, and or Hezbollah in Lebanon?

SECRETARY CLINTON: The Obama administration is deeply committed to achieving comprehensive regional peace in the Middle East, including peace between Israel and Syria and Israel and Lebanon and the full normalization of relations between Israel and its neighbors. That is also the vision of the Arab Peace Initiative, which was announced in Beirut. The United States firmly believes that the various tracks are mutually reinforcing. Syria itself has said that it wants to have its territorial expectations met through a peace deal with Israel. So we are going to keep working to get there.

More broadly, we welcome Lebanon and Syria having a positive, normal bilateral relationship. When Syria and Lebanon have had bad relations, there have been negative consequences not just for Lebanon but for the wider region. But a positive and constructive bilateral relationship is built on mutual interests and mutual respect, on international norms, and must be based on the idea you don't interfere in the sovereignty of the other country.

QUESTION: What can you tell us about persistent media reports regarding continued Syrian provisions of missiles, including scuds to Hezbollah, and joint training on these missiles in Syria?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Reports of the transfer of increasingly sophisticated weapons from Syria to Hezbollah is of serious concern to the United States and to the international community. It threatens regional security. It threatens Lebanon’s security. It destabilizes the region in a way that serves no one’s interests. Let’s not forget that Hezbollah, in 2008, did just what it swore it would never do: turn its weapons against the Lebanese people—the very people it swore to defend—and that’s something that should never be encouraged, enabled, or repeated.

We have been warning everyone, including Syria, about the dangers of miscalculation and the dangers associated with the transfer of sophisticated technologies and weaponry.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

United States Hands Over “Megaports” Project at Port of Beirut to Lebanese Customs

US Embassy Release November 10, 2010
As part of its world-wide commitment to the security of international shipping and ports worldwide, the United States has partnered with the Lebanese government to bring the “Megaports” initiative to Lebanon. On November 10, 2010, U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon Maura Connelly attended the official hand-over ceremony of the Lebanon Megaports project to the Lebanese government. Sponsored by the National Nuclear Security Administration at the U.S. Department of Energy, the Megaports Initiative seeks to deter, detect, and interdict illicitly trafficked nuclear and radiological materials by deploying fixed, mobile and handheld detection equipment. The program has been installed at borders, airports and ports around the world.

Currently, Megaports is operational or deploying at 40 ports worldwide. Lebanon is the first country in the region to fully implement the Megaports program. At the port of Beirut, Megaports has partnered with Lebanese Customs to install six detection systems. In addition, the National Nuclear Security Administration has agreed to maintain seven installations funded by the EU and deployed by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Speaking at the ceremony, Ambassador Connelly applauded Lebanese Customs for their dedication to making the Megaports program a success: “The United States greatly values the outstanding cooperation we have received from Lebanese Customs and the Beirut Port. The key to this success has been the willingness of key people in the port to take responsibility for the operation of the system. We look forward to continued partnership and collaboration with the Lebanese government on critical nonproliferation efforts.”

For more information on the Megaports initiative, please download the file at the following link: http://nnsa.energy.gov/sites/default/files/nnsa/inlinefiles/singlepages_9-15-2010.pdf .

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

U.S Trained Internal Security Forces Officers Graduate

US Embassy Press Release November 9, 2010
The United States Government continues training Internal Security Forces (ISF) personnel as part of an on-going $116 million law enforcement assistance program. Thaddeus Kontek, the Director of the U.S. Embassy’s International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Programs, congratulated 15 officer graduates, who recently completed the 10th U.S.- Lebanese Supervision and Management Course. Six of these graduates also completed the Instructors Course at the Internal Security Forces (ISF) Academy in Warwar. Since January 2008, the U.S. and Lebanese instruction team has trained 4790 ISF members in basic and advanced police skills and leadership courses.

The Supervisor and Management Course is an eight-week, state-of-the-art training program, taught by U.S. instructors with the assistance of Lebanese police and legal professionals. Officers learn the latest technical and leadership skills and how to apply these to on-the-job situations. An additional week of training provides skills on how to be a training instructor.

With these professional courses, the ISF is building its capacity and proficiency. The current $116 million U.S. assistance program to the ISF strengthens the ISF and is part of the overall U.S. security assistance program to Lebanon. The law enforcement assistance program strengthens the ISF ability to enforce the rule of law and protect the Lebanese people. The professional development of the ISF is critical for Lebanon’s sovereignty, independence and security.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Transcript of Remarks Made by U.S. Senator John Kerry After Meeting with Prime Minister Saad Hariri at the Grand Serail in Beirut

US Embassy Press Release November 8, 2010.
Senator Kerry: It’s a great pleasure for me to be back here in Lebanon, in Beirut. I have had the privilege of knowing Prime Minister Hariri for a number of years now. I always benefit from his insights, not just about the situation in Lebanon, but also about the situation in the region. We had a comprehensive discussion, focusing on the issues that currently face the government of Lebanon, but also facing the questions of Syria, Iran, the peace process in the Middle East. I am very for the insights that Prime Minister Hariri shared with me. We are, President Obama and the United States, are very grateful for the steadfast, steady leadership that the Prime Minister is presenting under difficult circumstances. We all understand the ways in which the government has shared participation and shared responsibility. It’s hard to find consensus. But, we believe that the Prime Minister has shown – not just for Lebanon, but for peace and stability in the region – he has shown leadership and vision. That is very, very important for all of us.

I also had a meeting earlier today with President Sleiman. He also articulated his concerns about the tensions that exist today. So let me say this: I reaffirmed to the Prime Minister, on behalf of both President Obama and the Congress of the United States, our steadfast support for a sovereign, independent, stable Lebanon. That matters to us. In addition, for all the obvious reasons, a strong Lebanon is critical for the Lebanese people. A united Lebanon that is stable and moving forward, both on security issues and economic issues, is good for the Lebanese people. I know that President Obama is deeply committed to helping to bring Lebanon stronger democratic institutions that have the ability to represent all the interests of the Lebanese people. I know that our economic and security assistance will continue in the effort to help build those strong institutions. I can promise you in my capacity as Chairman of the United States Senate Foreign Relations Committee, I intend to remain focused on that and remained committed to it.

Now, like the rest of the international community, the United States is firmly supportive of the work and the independence of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon. Let me remind people, this is a tribunal that was not created by the United States, not created by any individual entity in this region. It was requested by Lebanon, by Lebanese, by people who are tired of the notion that assassination should be a political tool. Lebanon has seen too much assassination of many different leaders. This is not just about former Prime Minister Hariri. This is about all of the assassinations. It is about assassination as a tool of politics. The era of assassinations needs to end. The United Nations, by vote of many, many countries, all of them have come together to decide that this is the moment for Lebanon to find a new future that is free from assassination as a political tool. That’s what this is about. It has nothing to do with Shia versus Sunni versus Christian versus Druze. There is no sectarianism. There is no association whatsoever with any particular entity. The United Nations is looking for the truth. So we stand in full support of the independence of this tribunal and the ability of Lebanon to move beyond that kind of violent, destructive tool that has been employed.

Now, let me make it clear. Prime Minister Hariri doesn’t have the power to change the Tribunal. Lebanon doesn’t have the power to change the Tribunal, because it was created by the United Nations at the request of this country. It would take the votes of many countries to change what is happening. So for those who are trying to make it an issue, those who oppose it, they need to think carefully about rule of law, about the institutions that have put this Tribunal together, and what it is trying to accomplish, well outside of your prime minister’s ability to affect. We will continue. I know there are strong views here in Lebanon regarding it. The Tribunal has a very important opportunity to contribute to set a new precedent. Nobody knows what the findings will be. I don’t know the findings. I think whatever those findings are, they are not directed at a whole group of people. They don’t reflect one sectarian, or one religious, or one other point of view. They reflect what some individuals may have chosen to do. That is they way in which this tribunal needs to be judged. Violence should no longer be a political tool in Lebanon.

Later today, I will travel to Damascus. I will meet with President Asad. There, I will have further conversations regarding the challenges facing the Middle East. I have personally long advocated that the United States needs to be more engaged with Syria. We need to work together to find a resolution to the conflict between Syria and Israel and find a path to peace. I believe that path to peace exists. So we will continue to work to improve and normalize Lebanon’s bilateral relationship with Syria. I certainly will have discussion with President Asad about some of the issues that I talked with Prime Minister Hariri about today.

Let me make one point absolutely clear to all of the people of Lebanon: Nothing that we discuss, and nothing that we agree to with respect to Syria will ever come at the expense of Lebanon or the people of Lebanon. That, I can guarantee you. Finally, let me just say that I am encouraged by the steps that Lebanon has taken in the last years, both economically and otherwise. But it would be naïve for me to stand here and not say that this is a moment of tension here in Lebanon. I ask both parties that are in a position to make a difference in the decisions that need to be made in the days ahead to think about the potential for Lebanon for the future, to think about the economic opportunities and the global opportunities, the opportunities of tourism, the impact on the economy of Lebanon – all of which can be greatly impacted by the choices that are made in the days ahead. I know that President Obama remains hopeful that the right decisions will be made, that the larger mission of the possibilities for Lebanon are what will govern those decisions. I can guarantee that we will remain – we the Untied Stated – remain committed to an independent, democratic Lebanon in which all the people of Lebanon can share in the possibilities of that future.

I’d be delighted to answer questions if there is any. Maybe just a couple of quick ones.

Q: [inaudible]

Senator Kerry: I think I just addressed that. President Obama is committed to the independence of this tribunal. We, the United States, we don’t know what is happening with the Tribunal. We don’t have anything to do with the management of the Tribunal. The Tribunal is an international entity, put together by the United Nations, with Beirut, with Lebanese membership and with carefully-chosen international experts who have the ability to engage in this kind of activity. President Obama believes the Tribunal is important because it speaks to all of the people of Lebanon, not to one group or another, but because it speaks to the possibility of a political life in this country that is free from the fear of assassination, that is free from the tool of assassination in its politics. You’ve lost too many of your leaders. I’ve met some people who have been the targets of assassination. I’ve met people that have gone through many medical operations as a result. They’ve lost their children, members of their families. Maybe we’re spoiled in the United States. We’ve had occasion in history when unfortunately a leader has been struck down, but we’ve always been able to bring people to justice and we’ve always moved forward without the kind of division that others seem to want to play to. I think that the President encourages Lebanon to be calm, respect the law, respect the international process that is in place here, see what the findings are, and move to use this opportunity to build a stronger Lebanon, with stronger democratic institutions. That’s what we hope will come out of any decision that is made.

Q: [inaudible]

Senator Kerry: I’m going to ask the second part first. The President has nominated an ambassador. We had hoped that that ambassador would have been already confirmed. Our committee has passed that ambassador out to the full Senate, but we have many, many nominations that regrettably have been held up in partisan politics in the United States. Our hope is that when we return, we’ll be able to move together to get an ambassador there soon. To some degree, that will depend on Syria’s behavior itself. So, we will look to Syria to play a constructive role in these next days in what happens here in Lebanon. I will have that conversation with the president today. We want Syria to be a constructive force for peace, with Lebanon, with Israel, in the region to help us with respect to the challenges with Iran. You know, there’s an enormous amount of benefit to Syria in the relationship with the United States and the West that can follow from that kind of action. We are very, very hopeful that Syria is going to be a very constructive player in the days ahead.

On that note, I need to go to the airport. Thank you all very, very much. Thank you.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Clinton contacts Hariri: US strongly commits to Lebanon's stability

04/11/10 NNA - US Embassy in Beirut issued on Thursday the following statement:
"Secretary Clinton called Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri this morning to reaffirm the strong commitment of the United States to Lebanon's sovereignty, independence, and stability. The Secretary also spoke about recent developments and political issues in the region, expressing the United States' appreciation for Prime Minister Hariri's steadfast leadership on behalf of the Lebanese people. She reconfirmed the importance to the United States of a peaceful and independent Lebanon and our commitment to strengthening Lebanon's state institutions through our security and economic assistance programs. The Secretary and the Prime Minister looked forward to continuing their partnership, strengthening our ties, and pursuing a more peaceful, more secure, and more prosperous Middle East."

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Susan E. Rice, U.S. Permanent Representative to the UN, Announcing an Additional $10 million U.S. Contribution to the Special Tribunal for Lebanon

The United States is pleased to announce that we will transfer an additional $10 million to the Special Tribunal for Lebanon. This brings total U.S. funding for the Tribunal to $30 million since its inception.

We applaud the brave and tireless work of the Tribunal’s staff members, who continue to carry out their duties in a professional, apolitical manner. The recent attack on three Tribunal staff members in Beirut is yet another attempt to create a false choice between justice and stability in Lebanon and to prevent the independent Tribunal from carrying out its Security Council mandate. We condemn such acts and again emphasize that efforts to discredit, hinder, or influence the Tribunal’s work must not be tolerated. The Tribunal must continue to operate according to the highest standards of judicial independence and integrity, and we have full confidence in its ability to do so.

The establishment of the Tribunal was a clear signal that Lebanon’s sovereignty is non-negotiable. We are confident that the work of the Tribunal can continue to help deter further violence and put an end to a tragic era of impunity for political assassinations in Lebanon. Until Lebanon is able to achieve this, it will be very difficult to secure the peace and stability that all Lebanese citizens deserve.

We commend all of the donor countries that have contributed to the Tribunal and we encourage the entire international community to continue to support the Tribunal, financially and politically.