Thursday, October 29, 2009

Lebanon and US relations - a brief brief

Yesterday the House Foreign Affairs Middle East and South Asia Subcommittee held a hearing with Assistant Secretary for Near East Affairs, Jeffrey Feltman.

Here is a short recap of the Lebanon focused parts:

• In Feltman’s opening statement he asserted United States commitment to Lebanese sovereignty.

• Chairman Gary Ackerman (a Democrat from New York) asked the following three questions: 1) In the two areas we are trying to improve relations with Syria mainly bilateral relations and Middle East peace, are we going to be willing to pay in Lebanese coins? 2) Is the Administration still committed to UNSCR 1701? And 3) Are we still supporting the tribunal?

• Feltman responded by saying the Administration is unequivocally not going to do anything at Lebanon’s expense. He said that UNSCR 1701 remains to be the foundation and basis of US policy to Lebanon and that yesterday’s incidents (rockets fired between Lebanon and Israel) show the need to reinvigorate implementation of this resolution. Regarding the tribunal, Feltman said that the US will support the work of the tribunal until their work is finished. He said that his tribunal is not a political one but to bring justice to those responsible.

• Feltman also said in the Q & A session that the United States needs to take Lebanese sensitivities into consideration when dealing with Palestinian refugees.

• Congressman Gerry Connolly (a Democrat from Virginia) asked Feltman about the situation in Lebanon and the cabinet formation process. Feltman responded by saying it is natural to be concerned that no government has been formed. There is a formula. We have seen this in the past where there is no government or no President. The unifying factor in these situations has been the Hizballah and Aoun alliance. The Lebanese need to come together to solve these problems as quickly as possible. Lebanon needs to be left to their own devices to do just that.

Full testimony can be found here.

Thanks to Qifa Nabki for the link.

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