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Remarks on the Draft Resolution on the Middle East

Ambassador John R. Bolton, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations
Remarks at a Security Council Stakeout
New York City
July 13, 2006

AMBASSADOR BOLTON: Let me just take a minute here because we have to go in here for the vote on the Middle East resolution. Just a report on the North Korea front, we had a working lunch of the five permanent members and Japan and discussed the differences between the two texts that are out there. I think we'll be meeting again after these Council meetings, probably about 5:30 to continue the discussions. And I think we've identified some areas where we can find language that will be mutually acceptable; although I think there's still a long, long way to go. But the point is that we are in discussion and hoping for a way ahead that brings us to a vote very soon in the Council on the Japanese resolution.

REPORTER: On the Middle East resolution, ambassador, could you expand on your view earlier today that the US doesn't think there should be any resolution or could you state more broadly what's in this resolution or what shouldn't be in it, what you would like to have seen in a resolution that would cause you to not be able to support this one.

AMBASSADOR BOLTON: As I said yesterday, I was going to seek instructions from Washington on what the vote should be and I have received my instructions from Washington on what my vote should be and I'll make that vote in a few minutes.

REPORTER: Ambassador, events are now escalating even further over in the Mideast and there's been Israeli rocket attacks in the Beirut airport. Can you give us your response to what's happening?

AMBASSADOR BOLTON: I think the President spoke quite clearly to that point in Germany today when he said that Israel had a right to self-defense and that Hamas, the militant wing of Hamas, and Hezbollah have not shown an interest in peace. And it's time for everybody to do that, and so Israel's actions in self-defense - I think we've made it clear where we stand on that.

REPORTER: Do you see any Iranian involvement in the current violence?

AMBASSADOR BOLTON: Well, there's unquestionably Iranian involvement in financial and other support for Hezbollah and Hamas. That's been one of the reasons why we've called Iran the central banker of terrorism, one of the principal reasons they've been for decades on the US list of state sponsors of terrorism. Whether they have any specific operational responsibility I don't know, but if Iran would stop financing Hamas and Hezbollah, maybe they wouldn't be capturing Israelis.

REPORTER: Ambassador, why do you believe that this resolution is unnecessary and can you tell us what your instructions are?

AMBASSADOR BOLTON: No, I can't tell you what my instructions are but I will play that all out in the Council chamber in due course.

REPORTER: Is there enough support in the Council for the resolution to even get to a vote?

AMBASSADOR BOLTON: I think we'll find that out in a few minutes, but that question has not influenced the decision on my instructions.

REPORTER: Mr. Ambassador, do you support the presidential statement on the situation in Lebanon? And this morning you told us that there wouldn't be a vote today and then it turned out that there is a vote. What happened? Was there a misunderstanding with Doha? Was there some kind of problem?

AMBASSADOR BOLTON: What I said this morning was that we had been informed that the sponsors would not press for a vote in the Security Council today. And that has obviously turned out to be an error. I can say that we worked quite hard here during the morning to try to postpone this vote, particularly in light of the changing situation. But if there is to be a vote, perhaps with a few minutes left the sponsors won't push for a vote, but if they do, I know what I'll do.

REPORTER: Mr. Ambassador, why do you believe this resolution is unnecessary?

AMBASSADOR BOLTON: As I say, I'll have an explanation of vote when I cast my vote and you know what the instructions are to give the statement in the Council, rather than to the press in advance. Anything else or can I go inside? Yes ma'am.

REPORTER: Ambassador, the Security Council reaffirmed a few months ago or not long ago that it was committed to protecting civilian population. It seems that the casualties on the Arab side, in civilian casualties, is mounting as we speak. Does the US, as a beacon of freedom and equality, have anything to say about that? And do you foresee the Security Council taking action on what's happening in Lebanon.

AMBASSADOR BOLTON: I think it's always tragic when there are civilian casualties as a result of military action. The question is whether the actions themselves were motivated by a desire to target civilians or whether it's simply a sad and unfortunate consequence of otherwise legitimate military action. There's certainly no moral equivalence between an act of terrorism directed at civilian population and the tragic loss, on the other hand, the tragic loss of civilian life as a consequence of military action.

REPORTER: Is there another way to arrange the letters in the word vote?

AMBASSADOR BOLTON: No, there's not, but you'll see it all soon enough. Thanks very much.

Released on July 14, 2006

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