Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Nicholas Burns, Under Secretary for Political Affairs condemns assassination of Minister Pierre Gemayel

US Department of State
Nicholas Burns, Under Secretary for Political Affairs                
Washington, DC                                                                
November 21, 2006   
We just heard the news just about a half hour ago of the assassination of Pierre Gemayel in Lebanon. Obviously this is a very sad day for Lebanon. We were shocked by this assassination. We view it as an act of terrorism. We also view it as an act of intimidation against the March 14th Coalition. And we believe it's the responsibility of all countries to support the Siniora government and to oppose those who would try to divide Lebanon or return violence to political life in Lebanon. The Gemayel family has played a very important role in the history of Lebanon. They have suffered too much tragedy as a family and our condolences go to the Gemayel family.                                                                       
We think it's very, very important that those who would divide Lebanon, who would use violence to destabilize the political situation, not be able to succeed. And we will give full support to the Siniora government in the days and weeks ahead to support that government, to support its continuation because it's been duly elected by the people of Lebanon, to support what it needs to do to reconstruct the country.                                                   
QUESTION: Does this cast any doubt on the ability to construct a carefully balanced government in Lebanon, which you're calling a democracy? We have had 
our own assassinations and we're a democracy, but does this say something about the abilities of the various Lebanese people to pull together for the good of 
the country?                                                                  
UNDER SECRETARY BURNS: Well, it's unfortunately all too -- part of an all too often pattern of violence and assassination in Lebanon's recent political     
history over the last 30 to 40 years. We support the Government of Lebanon. We support Prime Minister Siniora. We have felt for the last year and a half that
the March 14th Coalition represents what's right about Lebanon: politicians, political leaders who are dedicated to democracy, who wanted to return Lebanon
to a position of real sovereignty and free Lebanon from Syria's influence, and free Lebanon from the politics of violence and assassination. It's a very sad 
day to see someone -- a young leader like this, who was devoted to public service, to be gunned down. And so it does instill in us a belief that we have
to redouble our efforts and those of our friends in the Arab world as well as in Europe to support the Siniora government. We have seen statements from Mr. 
Nasrallah and others over the past few weeks that are meant, we believe, to destabilize Lebanon and to divide the country and we oppose those statements. And we call on all countries to support the unity and territorial integrity of Lebanon and to free Lebanon from these acts of political intimidation and terrorism. This was an act of terrorism today.