Saturday, October 10, 2009

Feltman calls on Lebanese leaders to handle cabinet formation according to constitution

October 10, 2009 US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Jeffrey Feltman told Al-Hurra Television in interview on Saturday that he hopes Lebanon’s leaders will handle the issue of cabinet formation as soon as possible, according to the Lebanese constitution and to the democratic elections.

He praised the Syrian and Saudi leaders’ interest in Lebanon’s cabinet formation, as demonstrated during the recent Summit in Damascus.

Feltman said his country is fully committed to supporting Lebanon’s sovereignty and independence, which he said, was a topic of negotiation during Syrian Assistant Foreign Minister Faisal al-Moqdad and the US administration’s meeting in Washington last week. Feltman stressed however, that in spite of Syria and US’ discussion of the issue, “Only Lebanese must make the decisions for their country.”

According to Feltman, talks with Moqdad were constructive and the US is committed to following-up on policies of US president Barack Obama and on his insistence to deal with Syria in a diplomatic way.

He also said, “We made visits to Damascus and had talks with the Foreign Minister Walid Mouallem on the sides of the UN general assembly in New York, and this is the political part of our diplomatic integration with the Syrians, where we will evaluate our ability to accomplish some of the goals of our foreign policy.”

In another respect, Feltman undermined the statements by Israeli Foreign Minister Avidgor Lieberman about the possibility of failing to soon reach peace, saying he will not “allow an Israeli statement from here or a Palestinian statement from there” worry him, for “it is normal for both sides to present their tense positions when they are negotiating.”

He reiterated the US commitment to Israel’s security and to helping Palestinians achieve ambitions of establishing an independent state, and also said that the current US administration will continue to seek Israeli-Palestinian negotiations to reach a two-state solution.