December 8, 2011 - Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Jeffrey Feltman completed his visit to Lebanon today and met with senior officials to discuss the political and security situation in Lebanon, developments in Syria, and other regional issues.
Assistant Secretary Feltman and U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon Maura Connelly met with President of the Chamber of Deputies Speaker Nabih Berri, Maronite Patriarch Mar Bachara al-Rai, former Patriarch Mar Nasrallah Boutrous Sfeir, Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblatt, Lebanese Armed Forces Commander General Jean Kahwagi, Internal Security Forces Commander Major General Ashraf Rifi, and former Minister of Defense Elias El Murr. Assistant Secretary Feltman and Ambassador Connelly met with Prime Minister Najib Mikati yesterday.
He renewed the United States' commitment to a stable, sovereign and independent Lebanon. Assistant Secretary Feltman underscored the U.S. Administration's support for strengthening Lebanon and Lebanon's institutions, including the Lebanese Armed Forces, recognizing its importance in serving as Lebanon's sole legitimate defense force, securing Lebanon's borders and defending the sovereignty and independence of the state.
He noted the importance of Lebanon's continued cooperation with the Special Tribunal for Lebanon and of Lebanon upholding its international obligations under United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1559 and 1701.
Assistant Secretary Feltman met with Patriarch al-Rai and exchanged views on developments in Lebanon and the region. As he has done with many others during his visit, Assistant Secretary Feltman discussed with Patriarch al-Rai the United States' support for the principle that the universal human rights of all communities and people of all faiths must be protected by their governments. He also urged the Patriarch to support international and regional efforts to end the brutality of the Syrian regime against the Syrian people. He reaffirmed to the Patriarch the United States' firm view that Syrian President Bashar al-Asad has lost his legitimacy to lead and the best way to end the brutality is for Asad to step down.