Thursday, May 29, 2014

Statement from Ambassador David Hale

May 28, 2014
It is unfortunate that Lebanon's presidential election did not occur on time, in accordance with the Lebanese constitution.  As the United States has done consistently, we encourage the Lebanese parliament to elect a new president  as soon as possible.
As the Lebanese parliament continues its effort to elect a president, the United States will continue its strong partnership with the Lebanese people, their leaders, and their state institutions to advance the goals of peace and stability, and help Lebanon fulfill its international obligations and insulate itself from the spillover of the conflict in Syria.
The United States thanks former President Sleiman for his strong and wise leadership in a difficult time, and for his commitment to strong ties between our countries.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Statement by U.S. Ambassador David Hale following his meeting with President of the Chamber of Deputies Nabih Berri

May 19, 2014
Good morning.
I had the honor just now of meeting with the President of the Chamber of Deputies, Nabih Berri.  And I met earlier this morning, as well, with the President of the Republic, Michel Sleiman.
I took this occasion to repeat what has been a consistent position of the United States.
We urge Lebanon's leaders to conduct the presidential election on time and in accordance with the constitution.Our aim is to help the Lebanese protect the electoral process, not to pre-determine the outcome.
I believe that the vast majority of the Lebanese people want their country to be peaceful and stable, and meeting its international obligations.  The international community wants to help in that regard, and with the many challenges that the Lebanese face. 
Success will not be possible without Lebanese leaders who are committed to those goals and who are partners in that effort.  It will take a functioning presidency, parliament, and cabinet to tackle these and other challenges, and to avoid the price of gaps and paralysis.
And we believe it is still within the capacity of Lebanon's leaders to achieve these goals, including the timely election of a president.
Thank you.

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

“Respect for Sovereignty” by Ambassador David Hale

May 6, 2014

Since last November, the people of Ukraine have been striving to define their own future.  In the process, they have become a symbol of courage and peaceful change for the whole world. The international community remains united behind Ukraine, respecting Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity, and giving its citizens the space and the support to help them determine how their country will be run and what their choices will be.

If any country can understand the negative consequences of having a foreign power occupy and control its land, it is Lebanon.  For too many years, Lebanon was held in occupation.  The Lebanese people overcame that occupation.  Today Lebanon and its people face another historic moment -- the opportunity to elect a president without foreign intervention.

Lebanon must seize this opportunity and, following constitutional timelines and processes, elect a new president without allowing any other country to dictate the results.  The United States supports this Lebanese process.  Just as Ukraine faces its own challenges, so does Lebanon:  an economy that needs rebuilding, security initiatives that require ongoing support, a refugee crisis that calls for compassion and government-wide coordination.  Lebanon needs a functioning presidency, parliament, and cabinet to tackle these and other issues.  The choices must be for the Lebanese alone, but they must be made.  The price of gaps and paralysis is simply too high.  

Above all, the government must work to ensure that all people in Lebanon uphold the wise policy of dissociation from the war in Syria.   Foreign interference led to tragic consequences here in the past, and today we see how involvement in Syria by foreign-supported Lebanese groups harms Lebanon.   The Lebanese groups fighting for Asad in Syria have attracted extremists and rocked the security and safety of Lebanese throughout Lebanon.  This involvement has taken both lives and livelihoods.   It has forced Syrians to flee their homes, with more than one million coming to Lebanon to seek safety.  While Lebanon has received them, the strain is obvious and the burden great.  The United States has contributed more than $340 million in humanitarian aid to help host communities and refugees cope, but the only real solution is finding a political end to the war.  To do that, the Lebanese must not intervene in this foreign conflict.

Respecting sovereignty is not a requirement only for Ukraine, nor only for Lebanon.  It is about basic principles that govern relations among nations in the 21st century.  As President Obama stated in Belgium on March 26, what is happening in Ukraine is a "moment of testing for Europe and the United States, and for the international order that we have worked for generations to build."  This order is based on a set of core principles that include respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity.  Just because Russia has a deep history with Ukraine does not mean it should be able to dictate Ukraine's future.  Nor should any country attempt to dictate Lebanon's future.

The people of Ukraine have the right to determine their future as a sovereign and democratic nation. The people of Lebanon have that same right.

As the United States stands united with Ukraine, so too are we united with the Lebanese people who seek peaceful - and constitutional - ways to address problems in Lebanon, keep Lebanon free from foreign intervention and ensure a safe, secure, and prosperous Lebanon for all Lebanese.

Note: The following op-ed was published today in Arabic in An-Nahar newspaper and news portal.

Friday, May 02, 2014

Statement by U.S. Ambassador David Hale following his meeting with President of the Chamber of Deputies Nabih Berri

May 2, 2014

Good morning, I just had a very good meeting with President Nabih Berri.  We discussed a range of issues, including of course the presidential election.  I want to commend him and other Lebanese political leaders for the seriousness with which they are addressing the issue of the election.

Lebanon's presidential election, and its parliamentary elections this fall, are entirely Lebanese processes.  The Lebanese must choose their leaders.  And those leaders will have serious work ahead of them.  Lebanon is facing a variety of economic, security, and social issues.  If they are to be properly addressed, all three arms of the government should be functioning.  The international community,  and certainly the U.S., need representative Lebanese partners if we are to help this country. 

Many ask about the role of the international community, including the United States, in this election.  It is very simple:  our role is to assist the Lebanese to protect this process, so that a Lebanese president is elected by the Lebanese, according to the constitution, and on time.  We have no role in picking or choosing a candidate, nor should any other foreign power.  It is only the right - and the responsibility - of the Lebanese. 

Thank you very much.