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Rice In Lebanon

Serge Brammertz, head of the United Nations Independent Investigation Commission, recently met with government officials in Syria. The commission is investigating Syrian links to the February 2005 bombing that killed former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri and twenty-two others. Mr. Hariri was a longtime opponent of Syria's occupation of Lebanon.

Following Mr. Hariri's assassination, tens of thousands of Lebanese demonstrated in support of a Syrian withdrawal in what was later called the Cedar Revolution – a reference to the cedar tree on the Lebanese flag. Recent demonstrations were held in Beirut's Martyrs' Square to reaffirm the Lebanese peoples' desire for self-determination.

Since the Cedar Revolution, Syrian troops have been withdrawn and Lebanon has held an election. But other provisions of U-N Security Council resolution fifteen-fifty-nine have yet to be implemented. Lebanon's militias are supposed to be disbanded and disarmed. Central government control is supposed to be extended over all Lebanese territory.

In January, a written statement released by the U-N Security Council, commended the Lebanese government for taking measures to control the movement of arms into Lebanon's territory, but said the Syrian government has yet to take similar measures. Fuad Siniora, Lebanon's prime minister, says, "Lebanon has expressed its point of view very clearly that we want to have good relations with Syria. But on the basis of mutual respect."

On a visit to Lebanon, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the U.S. expressed U.S. solidarity with the people of Lebanon:

"It is also a time to reiterate and to affirm the firm support of the United States of America for the Lebanese people as they work to have a fully sovereign and democratic Lebanon that can be a prosperous Lebanon for all of Lebanon's people without regard to background, ethnicity or religion."

"Lebanon had, at one time, a great democracy that was prosperous and that the world knew for that prosperity. And that was interrupted by almost thirty years of occupation," said Secretary of State Rice. "That occupation," she said, "is now gone and is now being reversed."

The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.