Friday, February 13, 2009

Feltman Says U.S. Support for Tribunal Is 'Non-Negotiable' and 'Irreversible'

Acting Principle Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, Jeffrey Feltman, reiterated U.S. backing for the international tribunal that will try the suspected killers of ex-Premier Rafik Hariri, saying that such support was "non-negotiable" and "irreversible."
Feltman said in remarks published Friday in An-Nahar daily that the current U.S. administration "does not know who was behind Hariri's assassination.

"But what we do know, and what we want to stress, is that we will help the tribunal with all means possible to uncover and punish the killers and those who back them. It is high time to make absolutely sure that crimes of political assassinations in Lebanon will not remain unpunished," he added. The remarks were translated to English by Naharnet.

Referring to ongoing mediation efforts to revive Israeli-Syrian peace talks, Feltman assured the Lebanese that President Barack Obama "plans to review the U.S. policy in the region" in an indirect implication to Syria and Iran.

"But this does not at all mean that any future decision by the new administration will compromise Lebanon or (Lebanon's) independence or sovereignty," said Feltman, who is also former U.S. ambassador to Lebanon.

Feltman said that the U.S. "goal has been and still is to help the Lebanese govern themselves and become accountable to the Lebanese people." He added that the United States wants the Lebanese government to "satisfy the needs of the Lebanese people, not (to satisfy) us or Syria or any other party."

Meanwhile, An-Nahar reported that officials from the U.S. State Department and other U.S. sources told the newspaper that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had decided to officially appoint Feltman her deputy assistant for Near Eastern affairs. However, Feltman refused to confirm or deny these reports.

Beirut, Updated 13 Feb 09, 14:29
Source: Naharnet

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