Thursday, April 01, 2010

Statement of Senator John Kerry After Meeting with Prime Minister Saad Hariri at the Grand Serail in Beirut

Thank you. Well, good afternoon everybody. Thank you. Let me just say, I apologize because our schedule is so tight that I am not going to be able to take questions.
Let me just say what a great pleasure it is to be back here in Lebanon again and to have had the opportunity to meet with and talk at some length with Prime Minister Hariri. We are very, very grateful for the leadership that the Prime Minister has offered, not just here in Lebanon, but also to the peace and stability in the region. I will be travelling to Damascus. I will meet with President Assad with respect to the issues of the region. But let me emphasize to our friends in Lebanon that nothing that the United States does in this region will come at the expense of a free and independent and democratic Lebanon. We are encouraged by the steps that Lebanon has taken in the last years, coming out of great political difficulties. There has been enormous progress, both economically and otherwise. But as we all know, there are tensions in the region. There are issues that we need to deal with.
We look forward to continuing to work with your government, the government of Lebanon, in order to work on the number of partnerships that we share. Together, the United States and Lebanon have worked on education issues, on issues of peace and stability, law-enforcement, and so forth. So it is a great, great pleasure to be here again and to see the progress that is being made, even amidst the difficulties that we all know exist in the region. Again I emphasize the American people are deeply committed. There are strong ties with many of our communities in the United States with Lebanon. We anticipate continuing the financial support. I think there has been about $1 billion since 2006 that we have been very proud to contribute to the efforts of stability in this part of the world. So, we thank you for your contributions, we thank you for your patience. We remain extremely hopeful that in the weeks ahead we can find the path to progress on the single most important regional stability issue, which is the peace process between Israel and Palestinians. That is a top subject for my conversations with President Assad and it remains, obviously, a major priority of President Obama. Thank you for a beautiful day here in Beirut and I look forward to coming back many times. Thank you. Thank you very much.