- Press Release -
Media & Public Relation Office
Washington DC - September 7, 2007
WITH UNDER SECRETARY NICHOLAS BURNS
Washington, D.C. Ė Under Secretary of State Ambassador Nicholas Burns received a delegation of Lebanese American leaders at the State department on Friday September 7, 2007 within the context of an outreach policy by the US Administration toward the Lebanese-American community and its leaders who back the Administration's policies in the Middle East, and particularly in Lebanon. The delegation included Dr. Joseph Gebeily and Mr. Joseph Hage of the American Lebanese Coalition (ALC); Mr. Ramzi Rihani of the National Association of Lebanese American (NALA); and Messrs.Sami Kadi, Walid Nassif and Antoine Helou of the March 14 Alliance-USA. Also present along with Under-Secretary Burns were Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Mr. Robert Danin and Mr. Matthew Irwin, Lebanon Desk Officer and Coordinator of Military Aid to Lebanon.
Ambassador Burns reiterated the Administrationís support to the Government of Lebanon headed by Prime Minister Fouad Siniora and its backing of the March 14 Alliance in its struggle to fully realize the goals of the Cedar Revolution. The Under-Secretary restated the Administrationís unwavering commitment for the survival of democracy in Lebanon, free of regional interference. Moreover, Mr. Burns congratulated the delegation on t he Lebanese Armyís victory over the terrorists in Nahr el Bared, reaffirmed the Administrationís commitment to support the Lebanese Army to enable it to extend its authority over the entire Lebanese soil and its continued resolve to lead international efforts towards implementing United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1559, 1680 and 1701.
Current challenges in Lebanon were discussed. There was unanimity that the upcoming presidential elections in Lebanon represent a short term challenge with long term consequences. There was further unanimity on the significance of electing a new president in accordance with Lebanonís constitution and with the operative paragraphs in UNSCR 1559 and, most importantly, on the uneventful transfer of presidential powers and of the official seat of the presidency to the next constitutionally-elected president.
The Lebanese American leaders emphasized the need to disarm Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias that operate on Lebanese soil, safeguarding Lebanonís sovereignty; the full and urgent implementation of all UN Security Council resolutions relevant to Lebanonís sovereignty and independence, including but not limited to UNSC Resolutions 1559, 1680 and 1701; the demarcation of the Lebanese-Syrian borders; the monitoring of the Syrian-Lebanese borders, with international assistance; and the prompt launching of the International Tribunal to try the murders of Prime Minister Hariri and other political crimes against lebanese figures. Moreover, the delegation emphasized the need to respect the fundamental principles of non-interference in Lebanese affairs by regional powers and the disengagement of Lebanon from all regional conflicts.
After the meetings, a spokesman for the delegation declared: ďWe sensed an unwavering commitment from the US Administration and from Under-Secretary Burns to protect Lebanonís independence, sovereignty and territorial integrityĒ. "We will continue our successful cooperation with US Officials for the sake of Lebanon and for the national interests of the United States".
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