Thursday, January 27, 2011

U.S. Ambassador visits with Premier Saad Hariri.

NNA - 27/1/2011 US Ambassador Maura Connelly met on Thursday evening with Prime Minister Saad Hariri at his residence in Beit Wasat, and they discussed the ongoing parliamentary consultations and the position of the Future bloc, a press release by the US Embassy said.
"Ambassador Connelly lauded the Prime Minister's leadership and commitment to defending Lebanon's sovereignty and stability during his tenure. She emphasized the United States' continuing desire to fully cooperate with Prime Minister Hariri and his government in its caretaker capacity on the many issues of shared importance to Lebanon and the United States", the release added.
"Ambassador Connelly also reiterated the support of the United States for Lebanon's stability, independence, and sovereignty, as well as for the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.", the release concluded.

U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon Maura Connelly Meets with Prime Minister-designate Najib Mikati.

January 27, 2011
Ambassador Connelly met today with Prime Minister-designate Najib Mikati. They discussed recent political developments in Lebanon and both affirmed the importance of the strong relationship between the United States and Lebanon. Ambassador Connelly stressed to Mr. Mikati that the U.S. hopes that the government formation process goes forward as an exclusively Lebanese decision free from coercion, intimidation, and threats of violence, from both inside and outside Lebanon. She reiterated that the U.S. is committed to supporting Lebanon’s sovereignty, stability and independence. Ambassador Connelly expressed the United States’ continuing support for the Special Tribunal for Lebanon as a vital part of ending impunity for political violence in Lebanon.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Situation in Lebanon

Press Statement
Philip J. Crowley
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Public Affairs
Washington, DC
January 25, 2011

The United States continues to follow closely the situation in Lebanon. It is essential that any Lebanese government abide by the Lebanese constitution, prevent any use of violence -- including efforts to exact retribution against former government officials – and lives up to all of its international obligations, including U.N. Security Council Resolutions and its commitment to the Special Tribunal for Lebanon. The make-up of Lebanon’s government is a Lebanese decision, but this decision should not be reached through coercion, intimidation, and threats of violence. Unfortunately, Hizballah, backed by Syria, engaged in all three in pursuit of its political goals.
The work of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon is of vital importance to stability, security and justice in Lebanon: Its work will continue. Any government that is truly representative of all of Lebanon would not abandon the effort to end the era of impunity for assassinations in the country. Especially at this challenging time, we call on all parties to maintain calm and exercise maximum restraint.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

UN envoy and Lebanese Prime Minister discuss prospects for new government.

20 January 2011 – Restoring political stability and achieving a new Lebanese government is possible if all parties are willing to cooperate towards that end, a top United Nations envoy said today following a meeting with the caretaker Prime Minister, Saad Hariri.
The meeting between Michael Williams and Mr. Hariri comes just over a week after the collapse of the government of national unity, resulting from the resignation of 11 cabinet ministers from Hizbollah and allied groups due to differences over the UN-backed tribunal set up to try suspects in the 2005 assassination of Mr. Hariri’s father and former prime minister, Rafik Hariri.
Mr. Williams and the Prime Minister discussed the various international initiatives, most recently by Turkey and Qatar, and the prospect for achieving a new government and political stability in Lebanon.
“I believe that that is possible, provided that there is goodwill and cooperation of all political parties in working for justice as well as stability,” said Mr. Williams, who serves as the UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon.
He also underlined the need for calm and order during the current period despite the political divisions in the country.
On Monday, the Prosecutor of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, Daniel Bellemare, submitted the first indictment and supporting materials to the court, which is based in the Netherlands. The contents of the indictment remain confidential at this stage and need to be reviewed by the Pre-Trial Judge.
The Tribunal was set up following a probe by the International Independent Investigation Commission after an earlier UN mission found that Lebanon’s own inquiry into the massive car bombing that killed Mr. Hariri and 22 others was seriously flawed, and that Syria was primarily responsible for the political tensions that preceded the attack.
UN officials, including Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, have repeatedly stressed that the Tribunal is an independent body whose work should not be linked with any political debate.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Statement on Ambassador Connelly’s Travel to Zahle.

On January 16, Ambassador Connelly visited Zahle and met with MP Nicolas Fattouch at his residence. The meeting was a chance to follow up on to their December 2010 meeting during the Ambassador’s last trip to Zahle. They discussed the current developments in Lebanon and how the people of the Beqaa where reacting to the situation at present in Lebanon.

Ambassador Connelly also stressed that the U.S. continues to urge all parties in Lebanon to remain calm and to participate in constructive dialogue to find solutions to Lebanon's problems. In the interim, the U.S. remains committed to working with PM Hariri's caretaker government in all areas of our bilateral cooperation and assistance. Ambassador Connelly also reiterated that the U.S. also continues to support the Special Tribunal for Lebanon as the Lebanese people's best hope for putting its tragic and bloody history of political violence behind it.

Statement by U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon Maura Connelly After Meeting with Prime Minister Saad Hariri.

January 16, 2011
I met just finished a meeting with Prime Minister Hariri during which we discussed the Prime Minister’s recent meeting with President Obama. I reiterated President Obama’s appreciation for the Prime Minister’s steadfast leadership and efforts to reach peace, stability, and consensus in Lebanon under difficult circumstances. I thanked Prime Minister Hariri for his continued leadership and statesmanship in helping guide Lebanon through this difficult period.

The United States reiterates its call to all political factions to maintain calm and exercise restraint at this critical time. We urge all the parties in Lebanon to work together to find a solution for the numerous issues that face of the Lebanese people. It is now more important than ever that all sides commit to constructive dialogue and avoid escalating tensions in the country.

We also discussed the United States’ continuing commitment to work with the Prime Minister as head of Lebanon’s caretaker government in all areas of our bilateral cooperation and assistance. We discussed the importance of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon and its continuing work to assist the Lebanese people put its tragic and bloody history of political violence behind it once and for all. The Tribunal is an independent, international judicial process whose work is not subject to political influence -- either from inside Lebanon or from outside. The efforts by the Hizballah-led coalition to collapse the Lebanese government only demonstrate their own fear and determination to undermine Lebanon’s sovereignty and independence.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Prosecutor for Special Tribunal for Lebanon Files Indictment for Confirmation by Pre-Trial Judge.

Press Statement
Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
January 17, 2011
Today’s action by the Prosecutor for the Special Tribunal for Lebanon is an important step toward justice and ending impunity for murder. Those who oppose the Tribunal seek to create a false choice between justice and stability in Lebanon; we reject this.

We are confident that the Tribunal will continue to operate according to the highest standards of judicial independence and integrity. We call on all parties to promote calm and continue to respect the Tribunal as it carries out its duties in a professional and apolitical manner.

The United States and all friends of Lebanon stand together in support of its sovereignty and independence. While great progress has been made since this deadly attack in 2005, it will be impossible to achieve the peace and stability that the people of Lebanon deserve unless and until the era of impunity for political assassinations in Lebanon is brought to an end.

Statement by the President on the Special Tribunal for Lebanon Announcement

Office of the Press Secretary
January 17, 2011
I welcome the announcement by the Office of the Prosecutor for the Special Tribunal for Lebanon today that he has filed an indictment relating to the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri and 22 others. This action represents an important step toward ending the era of impunity for murder in Lebanon, and achieving justice for the Lebanese people. I know that this is a significant and emotional time for the Lebanese people, and we join the international community in calling on all Lebanese leaders and factions to preserve calm and exercise restraint. The United States is a strong friend of Lebanon and we stand steadfastly with others in support of Lebanese sovereignty, independence, and stability.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

White House condemns Hezbollah‏

Jan 14, 2011 WASHINGTON (AP) - The U.S. has strongly condemned Hezbollah for quitting Lebanon's pro-Western government and causing it to collapse. The White House promises to help Lebanon peacefully reconstitute a government.

National Security Adviser Tom Donilon said Friday that Hezbollah's intentions have been "laid bare." He said the Shiite militant group would have a hard time presenting itself as a "righteous resistance organization" if it continues trying to undermine "international efforts to find the truth."

A U.N. tribunal investigating the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri is widely expected to indict members of Hezbollah. Some fear that could rekindle violence in Lebanon.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Press Release, Friday, January 14, 2011.
Washington, D.C. ­– U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) made the following statement regarding the current crisis in Lebanon:

“The collapse of Lebanon's democratic government clearly demonstrates the desire of Hezbollah to thwart justice and rule Lebanon despite losing the last election. The threat of violence has no place in a democracy. And yet Hezbollah's coercion and intimidation, more than any votes it won last year, is what has enabled the leaders of this terrorist group to force such an unfortunate outcome on the people of Lebanon. As always, Hezbollah's leaders are advancing the foreign agenda of external actors that have no business meddling in Lebanon's internal affairs.

“Prime Minister Hariri has sought every reasonable and responsible avenue to resolve this crisis peacefully and within the context of Lebanon's sovereign democratic institutions. But at the root of this crisis is a matter of justice on which the Prime Minister and many Lebanese rightly believe there can be no compromise: the Special Tribunal for Lebanon's investigation into the murder of Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and several other patriotic Lebanese. For the sake of justice that is owed to these murdered Lebanese citizens, and for the sake of Lebanon's non-negotiable right to independence and self-governance, we must remain committed to the mission of the Special Tribunal. I call upon all responsible nations to support the Tribunal in completing its work on behalf of the people of Lebanon.

“In this time of political crisis and uncertainty, all Lebanese should know that the United States, and especially the Congress, stands with them in their pursuit of justice, freedom, and national sovereignty. The democratic leaders of Lebanon's parliamentary majority have not wavered in their commitment to those principles, and neither shall we.”

Friday, January 14, 2011

Statement by U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon Maura Connelly After Meeting with MP Michel Aoun

January 14, 2011
I met with General Aoun this morning. We had a discussion of recent political developments in Lebanon and the overall situation in the country.

The United States calls on all political factions to remain calm and exercise restraint at this critical time. We urge all the parties in Lebanon to work together to find a solution for the numerous issues in front of the Lebanese people. It is now more important than ever that all sides commit to constructive dialogue and avoid escalating tensions in the country.

In light of recent events, it is important to make clear that the United States’ commitments to Lebanon have not and will not change. We will continue to work with Prime Minister Hariri as head of Lebanon’s caretaker government on all of the issues of vital importance in the U.S.-Lebanese bilateral relationship. The United States continues to support the Special Tribunal for Lebanon as the Lebanese people’s best hope for putting its tragic and bloody history of political violence behind it. As the United States and the international community have said from the beginning, the STL is an irrevocable, international judicial process; its work is not a matter of politics but of law. The resignation of some of Lebanon’s ministers will not change this.

Similarly, the United States remains steadfast in its support for Lebanon’s state institutions through our robust military, security, and economic development assistance. The United States provides support to institutions, like the Lebanese Armed Forces, the Internal Security Forces, and numerous civilian ministries, that operate under the constitutional authorities of the Lebanese state. We believe that our support for these institutions is critical to a sovereign and independent Lebanon. We expect a new government will emerge through constitutional procedures, and our strong partnership with Lebanon will endure.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Rep. Issa Statement Supporting the People of Lebanon

January 13, 2011 WASHINGTON. D.C. – U.S. Representative Darrell Issa (R-CA) today released the following statement on the situation in Lebanon:

“It’s deeply concerning that forces who oppose a UN-led effort to expose the truth about the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri would risk the welfare of the entire country by forcing the collapse of the Lebanese government. As I have said before, Hezbollah is a cancer on Lebanon that must be addressed.

“The people of Lebanon must know that the United States stands behind their nation’s sovereign right to exercise judicial proceedings, assisted by the international community, without intimidation. It is my sincere hope that the Lebanese people will rise above this great crisis and continue to move in the direction of democracy, peace and prosperity.”

US monitoring 'closely' Lebanon crisis: Pentagon

WASHINGTON, January 13, 2011 (AFP) - The United States is keeping a close eye on the situation in Lebanon after the Beirut government collapsed following the resignation of Hezbollah, the Pentagon said Thursday.

"We do know that political tension, unrest and especially any violence that might follow are threats to regional stability and security," said Pentagon spokesman David Lapan.

Asked whether Washington would send any warships to patrol the waters off Lebanon, he said no ships had been sent yet.
The Department of Defense and "the US government desires that all parties use peaceful means to resolve the situation. We continue to monitor the situation very closely," Lapan said.

The United States, which is a major supplier of military aid to Lebanon, "has a valuable relationship with Lebanese armed forces and we're committed to do what we can to strengthen the sovereignty of the institutions as well as of the government of Lebanon."

In a sweep led by the Iranian-backed Hezbollah, 11 ministers withdrew from Prime Minister Saad Hariri's government on Wednesday evening, providing the minimum number of resignations to automatically dissolve the 30-member cabinet.

The move was linked to a long-running dispute over the UN-backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon, which is reportedly set to indict high-ranking Hezbollah operatives in the 2005 assassination of ex-premier Rafiq Hariri, Saad's father.

The resignations came after a Saudi-Syrian bid to defuse tensions over the tribunal failed to find a compromise between the two rival camps.

Boustany Encourages Continued Support of Lebanon After Government Collapse.

From The Office Of Congressman Charles Boustany
For Immediate Release
January 12, 2011. Washington, DC – Representative Charles Boustany, (R-Southwest Louisiana) issued the following statement in the wake of the collapse of the government of Lebanon after the resignation of 11 members of Prime Minister Sa’ad Hariri’s cabinet:

“Lebanon remains one of the most important allies of the United States in the Middle East,” Boustany said. “I encourage the Obama Administration to continue its support of the people of Lebanon as they work to build a politically stable and independent nation, safe from the threat of terrorism.”

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Congressman Murphy on Lebanon‏

January 12, 2011. Congressman Chris Murphy issued the following statement in reaction to the Hizbollah-led coalition’s efforts to bring down the government as a path to delegitimize the UN Special Tribunal’s investigation of the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

By walking out of the governing coalition today, Hizbollah and its allies unveiled their determination to hold the Lebanese unity government hostage to their own parochial interests. The Lebanese people shouldn’t have to choose between justice and stability – they deserve both. The work of the Special Tribunal must be allowed to continue without interference from any outside party, and the individuals responsible must be held accountable without threats of violence from any side. I join President Obama in reaffirming the U.S. commitment to our partnership with Lebanon, and strongly support Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s determined effort to protect Lebanese sovereignty and promote peace and stability in his country.

Jessica Elledge
Executive/Legislative Assistant
Congressman Christopher Murphy (CT-5)

Berman Reacts To Hezbollah’s Forced Collapse of Lebanese Government

Wednesday, January 12, 2011
Washington, DC – Congressman Howard L. Berman, Ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, released the following statement in response to Hezbollah’s forced collapse of the Lebanese Government.

“I stand firmly behind Prime Minister Hariri’s decision not to cave in to Hezbollah’s blackmail. This is a critical time for Lebanon to find a peaceful way forward, and I urge all Lebanese to reject violence in resolving this matter.”

Ros-Lehtinen Statement on Situation in Lebanon

Wednesday, January 12, 2011 (WASHINGTON) – U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, released the following statement today on the reported fall of the Government of Lebanon after the withdrawal of ministers representing Hezbollah and its partners:

“As the government of Lebanon appears to enter a period of transition at this crucial time, we must strongly and consistently support pro-democracy and pro-freedom Lebanese and the formation of a government free from the destructive influence of Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah.

“The Iran-Syria-Hezbollah axis is working to put an end to any hope for sovereignty, democracy, and freedom for Lebanon and the Lebanese people. The United States and other responsible nations must not repeat past mistakes where we failed to stand up to those who threaten Lebanon and all free nations.

“We must be vigilant against efforts to obstruct the work of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon and to evade accountability for the assassination of former prime minister Rafiq Hariri.”

Readout of the President's Meeting with Prime Minister Hariri of Lebanon

The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
January 12, 2011
President Obama met today with Prime Minister Saad Hariri of Lebanon. The President commended the Prime Minister for his steadfast leadership and efforts to reach peace, stability, and consensus in Lebanon under difficult circumstances. The efforts by the Hizballah-led coalition to collapse the Lebanese government only demonstrate their own fear and determination to block the government’s ability to conduct its business and advance the aspirations of all of the Lebanese people. The President and Prime Minister reaffirmed their commitment to strengthening Lebanon’s sovereignty and independence, implementing all relevant United Nations Security Council Resolutions, and continuing a wide-ranging and long-term partnership between the United States and Lebanon.

During their meeting, the President stressed the importance of the work of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon as a means to help end the era of political assassinations with impunity in Lebanon. The President and Prime Minister specifically discussed united efforts with France, Saudi Arabia, and other key international and regional actors to maintain calm in Lebanon and ensure that the work of the Tribunal continues unimpeded by third parties. The President and Prime Minister expressed their determination to achieve both stability and justice in Lebanon during this challenging period of government volatility, and agreed that all parties should avoid threats or actions that could cause instability

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Readout of the President’s call to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia.

Office of the Press Secretary
January 11, 2011. The President spoke to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia to wish him well as he continues to recover from his recent surgery, and thanked him for receiving Secretary Clinton in New York last week. The President told the King that, in light of their shared commitment to Lebanon’s welfare and to supporting Prime Minister Hariri, he looks forward to continuing to work together with Saudi Arabia and other partners to support Lebanon’s sovereignty, independence, and stability.

Statement by the Press Secretary on President Obama meeting with the Prime Minister of Lebanon‏.

THE WHITE HOUSE, Office of the Press Secretary
Tomorrow, President Obama will meet with Prime Minister Saad Hariri of Lebanon to discuss U.S. support for Lebanon’s sovereignty, independence, and stability, the ongoing work of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, and other regional issues. Lebanon is an important partner in U.S. efforts to promote peace, stability, and justice in the Middle East.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Heroic Journalism in Lebanon? Ex-Envoy Disagrees.

The News York Times,
Published: January 8, 2011
To the Editor:
As ambassador to Lebanon from 2004 to 2008, I was the person whom Al Akhbar’s editorial chairman, Ibrahim al-Amine, hoped to upset every morning with his newspaper’s coverage (“A Rarity in the Region, a Lebanese Paper Dares to Provoke,” news article, Dec. 29).
Mr. Amine did get my attention, but not in the way he intended. The hilariously erroneous accounts of my activities reported as fact in his newspaper provoked morning belly laughs.
While posted to Lebanon, I met with the editorial boards of Lebanon’s lively media, even stridently anti-American ones, for off-the-record, two-way conversations. Of all the requests I made, only Al Akhbar’s editorial board refused to receive me.
Sadly, Al Akhbar is less maverick and far less heroic than your article suggests. Al Akhbar will no more criticize Hezbollah’s secretary general, Hassan Nasrallah, than Syria’s state-run Tishreen newspaper would question the president of Syria, Bashar al-Assad.
One of the curiosities I discovered as ambassador to Lebanon was the number of Western journalists, academics and nongovernmental representatives who, while enjoying the fine wines and nightlife of Beirut, romanticized Hezbollah and its associates like Al Akhbar as somehow the authentic voices of the oppressed Lebanese masses. Yet, I don’t think that many of those Western liberals would wish to live in a state dominated by an unaccountable clerical militia and with Al Akhbar providing the news.
Samir Kassir and Gebran Tueni, who worked for the newspaper An Nahar and were killed by car bombs, and the grievously mutilated but courageous television journalist May Chidiac paid the price for real journalism in Lebanon — not the writers of Al Akhbar.
Jeffrey Feltman
Assistant Secretary of State
for Near Eastern Affairs
Washington, Dec. 30, 2010

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Clinton Backs Lebanon's Sovereignty, Tribunal in Talks with Hariri.

Beirut, 08 Jan 11, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has reaffirmed strong U.S. support for Lebanon's independence and for the work of the international tribunal during talks with Prime Minister Saad Hariri in New York.
The Saudi ambassador to Washington also met Hariri.

Clinton first met Saudi King Abdullah. No details of the talks were given but State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said before the meeting: "Certainly, she will emphasize to the king, as well as to the prime minister, our support for the democratic government in Lebanon, as well as our ongoing support for the special tribunal."

The U.S. Secretary of State went from the hotel where the king is staying straight to a nearby hotel next to Central Park to meet Hariri.

"Secretary Clinton expressed her strong support for the independence and sovereignty of Lebanon," a source who attended the Hariri meeting told Agence France Presse.

Clinton also "expressed very clearly her support for the Hariri tribunal."

The Lebanese premier has said several times that he will not give into pressure from Hizbullah to end support for the tribunal.

The secretary of state left the hotel saying her talks had been "excellent" but no other official details were given. The United States has repeatedly underlined its commitment to Hariri's government and to the tribunal.

Just after she left, the Saudi ambassador to Washington, Adel Al-Jubeir, was seen going to the Hariri suite.

Saudi Arabia and Syria have been trying to mediate an end to tensions between Hariri's government and Hizbullah over the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.(AFP-Naharnet)

Monday, January 03, 2011

Statement by Ambassador Maura Connelly on the Appointment of Ambassador Robert Ford to Syria

December 31, 2010
President Obama announced his intention to return an ambassador to Syria in June of 2009. After nominating Robert Ford on February 16, 2010, the President has waited 10 months for the Senate to take action. The President’s appointment of Ambassador Ford this week came alongside three other Ambassadorial appointments to Turkey, Azerbaijan and the Czech Republic. The timing of Ambassador Ford’s appointment is only reflective of the need to protect and advance U.S. interests and security in the region.

Appointing a U.S. Ambassador to Damascus should not be viewed as a reward to the Syrian Government. Having an ambassador in Damascus improves our ability to deliver firm messages to the Syrian government and to articulate clearly our concerns and priorities to Syria. No step taken with Syria comes at Lebanon’s expense. Robert Ford is one of the most qualified U.S. diplomats in the Foreign Service. He is tough, principled and skilled with a proven track record.

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. Its work is legitimate and necessary and cannot be stopped by any bilateral or regional agreement. The STL indictments, when they are released, will mark a new stage in a transparent, independent judicial process—a process that has the backing of the United Nations. It is a means of demonstrating an end to the era of impunity for the terrible and tragic violence that produced victims from all of Lebanon’s communities. The Lebanese people deserve a normal life free from fear of political violence.

I respect the leadership demonstrated by President Suleiman and Prime Minister Hariri, especially during this challenging period. The United States is committed to a strong partnership with Lebanon and to 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.