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USUN Press Release

New York, New York
May 30, 2007


Remarks by Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, U.S. Permanent Representative, on East Timor elections, Lebanon and Sudan, at the Security Council Stakeout

Ambassador Khalilzad: Good noon. Well, the Security Council today heard a report, a briefing from the special representative to East Timor on the elections.  Also there was an agreement that a vote on the tribunal, the Lebanese tribunal will take place this afternoon at 3:00.  The third item, in response to some discussions that I had with representatives from the Non-Aligned Movement, the Organization of Islamic Conference, the representative of Palestine and others, I want to make a press statement with regard to the situation in Gaza:

"The members of the Security Council express their grave concern at the breakdown of the cease-fire in the Gaza Strip and the resulting increase in violence. The members welcome the efforts of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to establish a cease-fire, and express their appreciation for the active support of the government of Egypt in this regard. They urge all parties to join the members of the council in supporting the call of President Abbas for an immediate end to the violence."

Thank you. I can take your questions in my national capacity.

Reporter: Ambassador, what do you think about the Lebanese government supporting Fatah al-Islam, as has been transpired by many independent journalists who went into Nahr al-Bared?

Ambassador Khalilzad:  I have nothing on that. I think the Lebanese government is fighting the terrorist group.

Reporter: This is not what these independent journalists are saying, there are evidence, ample evidence that Mr. Siniora and Mr. Hariri have been supporting and financing these groups.

Ambassador Khalilzad: Well, the facts on the ground right now goes against that and as you know, there has been violence, and the government of Lebanon, the armed forces of Lebanon very bravely are fighting the terrorist group there.

Reporter: Would you support an investigation into that?

Reporter: Ambassador, what's your degree of concern that a divided government, a divided country, Lebanon, however it's divided, is going to get a message from a Security Council that is also badly divided? This is not going to be, obviously far from a consensus this afternoon. Are you concerned about that kind of message out there from a divided council to a divided country?

Ambassador Khalilzad: Look, the issue of political assassination is a very important issue. It's not only important for Lebanon, it's important for the world.  And the Security Council cannot be indifferent to this issue.  The Lebanese government has asked for our help. It would have been obviously preferable for the Lebanese to implement the agreement that they have made internally, for a minority not to block the parliament from convening to come to a decision on this issue. People who have committed political assassination need to be brought to justice. They cannot have impunity.  As I said, the council has decided to help start the process of the implementation of the agreement with regard to the establishment of the tribunal. The Lebanese still have some decisions to make internally, but I believe that this is the right thing to do. This agreement in the council, there should be no misunderstanding about this, is not about the desire to establish a tribunal. You know, everyone accepts that the tribunal is an important step, it should happen, that political murder, political assassination cannot go without the investigation, without people being brought to justice, because all countries are concerned about the issue of political assassinations.  The disagreements inside the council is, should it be Chapter VII or not, for example, and that is the issue that goes beyond this case, whether the decisions of the council, without reference to Chapter VII are also binding or not. Some countries say, well, in order to make things truly binding, we need to have a reference to Chapter VII; others say they are not. But no one has said in the council that, no, we do not want this tribunal to be established, that we want those who have committed political assassination not to be brought to justice.

Reporter: Ambassador, how much, how concerned are you that the violence could erupt just after the vote in Lebanon?

Ambassador Khalilzad: Well, of course, should that happen, that will be the responsibility of those who are committing the violence.  I've told you before that I've heard some people say there are risks with going forward in the manner that the council is considering going forward this afternoon. But I've also said to you before that we have to compare the risks of doing with the risks of not doing what the council will decide on this afternoon. And many of us believe that the risks of not moving forward are greater, and therefore unbalanced, this is the right thing to do.  Again, it would have been good for the speaker of parliament to convene the parliament, allow a decision by parliament to be made on this issue. Still, as I told you yesterday, there is a sunrise clause in the resolution that allows until the 10th of June for the Lebanese to decide internally on this issue.  Now we will have to see whether the parliament will be convened or not. I think that time is running out for that.  But you know, these issues do not come to the Security Council. This is a difficult issue. And a majority, it seems to me, necessary numbers are saying that this is the right thing on balance to do to help Lebanon, given the request of the prime minister of Lebanon, given the importance of the issue of political assassination, not only for Lebanon, to deter it in terms of taking place in Lebanon or taking place beyond Lebanon. It's an important issue.  Yeah?

Reporter: Mr. Ambassador, can I ask you on Kosovo actually? What's going on? Are you talking with the Russians? Are there any signs that they are probably softening their position? And do you exchange views at all these days on Kosovo?

Ambassador Khalilzad: We do exchange views. We have not forgotten about Kosovo. That's a very important issue. This is an issue that's important for the future of Europe. It's an issue that threatens potentially the security and stability of Europe.  The current situation is not sustainable. The Europeans would like to take on the responsibility from the UN, to go to EU. They've got a good plan for moving forward and to commit the resources that are needed to do the job.  We believe that the Ahtisaari plan provides a good framework for moving forward. Tomorrow we will have the discussion of the Kosovo resolutions. The sponsors, at least I can speak on behalf of the United States, would like the Kosovo resolution to be discussed tomorrow.  Yes, ma'am?

Reporter: Ambassador, on Sudan, the council is taking a trip in two weeks through Africa, including to Khartoum. So I, does that mean you would hold off with any action on sanctions until you visited Khartoum?

Ambassador Khalilzad: I don't have anything on that. We are consulting with colleagues, obviously, with our friends and allies and with colleagues in the council. I don't have a date for you with regard to the new resolution.

Reporter: (Inaudible) you wouldn't adopt anything before you go to Khartoum, because you would have trouble then on you now.

Ambassador Khalilzad: On me? No, I don't have anything for you on that.  Yes.

Reporter: Ambassador, to follow up on that on Sudan, do you agree with some campaigners calls for a boycott on the Beijing Olympics if China does not change its stance on Sudan?

Ambassador Khalilzad: Well, I had a meeting with my Chinese colleague yesterday.   We will see in terms of Chinese actions in the council with regard to Sudan. The Chinese have expressed support for the three-legged approach that the secretary-general has outlined, but there is strong Chinese relationship with the Sudanese government in terms of a variety of things.  But our hope is that China will join us and others who believe that while the door to discussions and negotiations have to be kept open, that the Secretary-General's initiative should be supported. But there should be no doubt in the minds of the Sudanese government that the patience of the international community with the continuation of the situation is running out; that there is need for more action should they not cooperate with regard to the hybrid force, meaning peacekeeping, with regard to the political progress, that means not only the Sudanese government, it also means the rebels participating in a political process, but also that there will be unhindered access for humanitarian support.  Thank you.

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Released on May 30, 2007

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