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A Free And Sovereign Lebanon

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton met with Lebanon's President Michel Suleiman April 26th -- a strong sign of continuing U.S. commitment to Lebanese sovereignty, independence and democracy.

"We believe strongly that the people of Lebanon must be able to choose their own representatives in open and fair elections without the specter of violence and intimidation, and certainly free of outside interference," said Secretary Clinton. The United States, she said, "will continue to support the voices of moderation in Lebanon and the other responsible institutions of the Lebanese state that they are working to build."

Secretary Clinton pledged to continue U.S. support for the ideals of Lebanon's Cedar Revolution and for the United Nations Special Tribunal for Lebanon, which is investigating the murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri along with 21 others in a massive bombing in Beirut in 2005.

Secretary Clinton visited the memorial to Mr. Hariri saying, "I will honor his memory and pay my respects to all those who have been killed while defending Lebanon's sovereignty and independence."

Concerning the parliamentary elections scheduled for June, Secretary Clinton reiterated the United States' view that the elections should not be compromised by violence or foreign interference.

Lebanon's armed forces, Secretary Clinton noted, remain a pillar of U.S.-Lebanon bilateral cooperation. Since 2006, the U.S. has given over $1 billion in aid to the government of Lebanon, including over $410 million in assistance to the Lebanese military.

There is only one legitimate, recognized military force in Lebanon and the Lebanese Armed Forces should be commended for its efforts to defend Lebanon's borders, to fight terrorism, and to fully implement Security Council Resolution 1701.

Secretary Clinton emphasized that the United States will not jeopardize Lebanese sovereignty or security while pursuing improved relations with Syria. The United States is committed to working with the Lebanese government to secure the right of the Lebanese people to a free, independent, and democratic way of life.