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Lebanon An Important U.S. Ally

Speaking after a private Oval Office conference with Lebanese President Michel Suleiman, U.S. President Barack Obama stressed the importance of a good working relationship between the United States and Lebanon, calling the meeting "critical."

"Obviously Lebanon is a critical country in a critical region," said President Obama, "and we want to do everything that we can to encourage a strong, independent, and democratic Lebanon."

In the belief that a peaceful, prosperous, and stable Lebanon can make an important contribution to comprehensive peace in the Middle East, the United States seeks to maintain its traditionally close ties with Lebanon, and to help preserve its independence, sovereignty, national unity, and territorial integrity.

With this in mind, the U.S. supports United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1559 and 1701, which call upon Lebanon to establish its sovereignty over all of its land; require that all foreign forces withdraw from Lebanon and cease intervening in the internal politics of Lebanon; and that all Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias disarm.

President Obama expressed his belief that President Suleiman has done extraordinary work in managing a difficult situation. "We have continued to see progress in dealing with a lot of the cross-currents that exist not only in Lebanon but also in the region as a whole," said the U.S. President:

"The United States wants to be a partner in this process. ... We both agree that the issues of Middle East peace are linked to the issues that exist inside Lebanon, and so the more we can work together to encourage the parties involved ... to have constructive dialogue and try to negotiate out of the current impasse, the better off Lebanon will be, the better off the world will be."

President Obama said that he and President Suleiman won't agree on every issue. But they do share a commitment to resolve pressing issues through dialogue and negotiations, as opposed to through violence.

"And that is consistent with the democratic traditions of Lebanon," said President Obama. "That’s consistent with what we believe is in the interests of both Lebanon as well as the other countries in the region."