Remarks to the Press

William J. Burns
Deputy Secretary
Beirut, Lebanon
July 13, 2012

It’s a pleasure to be back in Beirut. I had good meetings with Speaker Berri and Prime Minister Mikati as well as with General Kahwagi and former Prime Minister Siniora. During these meetings, we consulted on developments in Lebanon, and in the region. I just wanted to highlight briefly a few themes from my discussions yesterday and today.

First, in all my meetings, I stressed the United States’ strong, continuing commitment to a stable, sovereign, and independent Lebanon. I also conveyed our appreciation for the efforts made by the Lebanese Government and political leaders, as well as the Lebanese Armed Forces and the Internal Security Forces, to work together to maintain calm in Lebanon amidst the challenges of a changing Middle East. We will continue to support Lebanon, including through our development and public outreach programs, and through our cooperation with the Lebanese Armed Forces and Internal Security Forces, to help ensure a peaceful and stable future for the Lebanese people.

Second, I welcomed Lebanon’s payment of its 2012 contribution to the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, a step that represents an important demonstration of Lebanon’s commitment to its international obligations. The work of the Tribunal is a chance for Lebanon to move beyond its long history of impunity for political violence.

Finally, we discussed the deteriorating situation in Syria and recent security incidents in Lebanon. Reports of a massacre at Traymseh in Syria yesterday are yet another horrific reminder of the urgent need for the international community to act decisively. We need to act now through a new UN Security Council resolution in New York which carries consequences for the Syrian regime’s continuing and increasingly violent noncompliance with its obligations. It is long past time to begin a democratic transition to a post-Asad Syria, to a future that reflects the legitimate aspirations of the brave and determined Syrian people.

The United States also remains concerned that the Syrian regime’s use of violence against its own people is contributing to instability in Lebanon, and we stress again the responsibility of the Syrian regime to respect Lebanon’s sovereignty. We encourage all parties to exercise restraint and support efforts to preserve Lebanon’s security and stability, consistent with United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1559 and 1701.

We look forward to continuing to work in a spirit of genuine partnership with the people and leaders of Lebanon. A stable, sovereign and independent Lebanon is deeply in the interest of the United States, the region, and the entire international community. Thank you.