Tuesday, May 27, 2008

State Department spokesman on Hezbollah's weapons

US Department of State

Daily Press Briefing
Sean McCormack, Spokesman
Washington, DC
May 27, 2008

QUESTION: Can you give us the presence of State Department in the president of Lebanon's inauguration ceremony? And are you worried that Hezbollah is making a case of not giving up arms in this sort of fragile (inaudible)?

MR. MCCORMACK: I'll have to check for you on the first part of your question. In terms of Hezbollah, I think one thing that has been revealed is that they are willing to kill their fellow citizens. This idea that they are somehow defending Lebanon against some external threat, I think, has been completely torn away by the events of the past couple weeks, in which they took up arms against their fellow citizens. And I think that that is a real eye opening event for a lot of people in Lebanon. And from the "politics" of Lebanon, it makes it much more difficult for Hezbollah.

Again, fundamentally, they need to make a choice between participation in politics and acting as what we refer to as a terrorist group. And the issue of Hezbollah's arms is one that is going to be – need to be solved by the Lebanese people and in the context of Lebanese politics.

There are Security Council resolutions addressing the issue. But fundamentally, when the rubber hits the road, it needs to be a Lebanese solution.

QUESTION: On Lebanon as well. I mean, you know, the Iranian – the Syrian foreign ministers were there attending the inauguration, the French, the Italians, everybody was there. And the representation from the U.S. was just a congressional delegation. Why did the Secretary of State not think it was important to go there? I mean, is this a sign that your role and influence in Lebanon has really been dealt a blow by – by the deal that was struck between the government and Hezbollah?