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U.S. Committed To Lebanon

The United States remains committed to a free and democratic Lebanon, says U.S. Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, Jeffrey Feltman.

Speaking to a U.S. Congressional Committee March 24th, Ambassador Feltman underscored that from the initial days of the new administration, President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have demonstrated the United State's continuing and unwavering support for a sovereign, democratic and prosperous Lebanon.

He also emphasized that the United States continues to seek full implementation of all the United Nations Security Council resolutions on Lebanon and will continue its efforts to strengthen the institutions of the Lebanese state. Ambassador Feltman noted that in the United States' efforts to advance a comprehensive regional peace, Lebanon will play a key role in the long-term effort to build lasting stability and peace in the Middle East.

Turning to Lebanon's upcoming parliamentary elections, Mr. Feltman said, "Decisions on the shape and the composition of the next government that will come out of these parliamentary elections should and can be made by the Lebanese themselves, for Lebanon, free from outside interference." The goal, he said, "should be that all parties in Lebanon compete democratically through elections, through normal means," without violence or intimidation.

The U.S. continues to strongly support the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, which opened on March 1st in The Hague, in its efforts to bring those responsible for the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and others to justice.

"The tribunal is an independent body," said Ambassador Feltman, "It should not be politicized."

Ambassador Feltman said the United States was "encouraged that the Lebanese state continue to strengthen its authority throughout the country and continues to expand its authority across all the Lebanese territory," with considerable help from Lebanon's international partners, including the United States.

Mr. Feltman affirmed the United States will continue to support the Lebanese people in their goal of a fully sovereign democratic state, where the government of Lebanon exercises full control over the territory of Lebanon. "This is a vital sign for the Lebanese," said Ambassador Feltman, "and it will help achieve peace and stability throughout the region."