Saturday, September 07, 2013

Statement by U.S. Ambassador David Hale at the Grand Serail

September 6, 2013
I had the great honor to present my credentials to President Sleiman this morning. I just finished meeting with Caretaker Prime Minister Mikati and we discussed a range of issues regarding the political, economic, and security situation in Lebanon. I will meet with Prime Minister-Designate Salam later today. Let me also say how gratified I am by the warm welcome I have received upon my return to Lebanon.

I know this is a time that is challenging for all Lebanese. A central topic of my meetings today related to the situation in Syria. America's leaders are focused now on how to respond to the Asad regime's brutal attack on its citizens with the barbaric means of chemical weapons. Without question, the United States believes the conflict in Syria must end through a political, not a military solution; but meanwhile, the Asad regime must be held accountable for its outrageous chemical attack against its own people.

We are also very focused on insulating Lebanon from any aftermath of any response to Syria's chemical attack, and preserving Lebanon's policy of disassociation from the Syria conflict. That policy is the right one for Lebanon's stability and for the region. We believe the interests of the Lebanese people would be best served if all Lebanese adhere to that policy of disassociation. Yet one party in Lebanon, Hizballah, continues to blatantly violate it through direct participation in the Syrian conflict, thereby exacerbating the challenges to Lebanon.

The American-Lebanese relationship is and will remain strong and multi-faceted. We are committed to deepening and broadening the partnership between our countries, as it serves both of our interests. Your leaders have charted a course of national institution building, and we are proud of our support for that path.

I returned to Lebanon a week ago. In this short period, I have talked to many ordinary Lebanese. I have heard from them a common vision that they share for this country: a peaceful and prosperous Lebanon; a Lebanon where people and their children can lead safe and secure lives in ways of their own choosing, a Lebanon where decisions are made by government institutions accountable to the people, not by factions that answer to others. We share that Lebanese vision, and will work with you to make it a full reality.

Thank you.