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Remarks on the Situation in the Middle East

Ambassador John R. Bolton, U.S. Representative to the United Nations
Remarks at the Security Council Stakeout
New York City
July 17, 2006

QUESTION: Can we expect any action from the Security Council on the Lebanese-Israeli conflict? Specifically, is there any chance of a statement, or a press statement, or a resolution calling for a ceasefire?

AMBASSADOR BOLTON: I think this morning we will listen to a briefing by Under Secretary General Gambari and I think we will await the return of the Secretary General's mission in the region. I think it's very important, with events as unclear and fast moving as they are, that the Security Council not do anything to unsettle the matter further. But we will take a look at it on a day-by-day basis and see what has to be done.

QUESTION: Will you be putting something forward or supporting an intervention force going into the region to try to enforce or monitor a ceasefire and play some role in bringing this conflict to an end?

AMBASSADOR BOLTON: Remember the G8 leaders said yesterday that it was worth the Security Council considering the possibility of such a force; and I think that as we consider that possibility we would have to think of several questions, three broad areas come to mind. First, would such a force be empowered to deal with the real problem? The real problem is Hezbollah. Would such a force be empowered to disarm and demobilize Hezbollah armed components, would it be empowered to deal with the countries like Syria and Iran that support Hezbollah? What exactly would be the extent of the mandate to deal with the military threat posed by Hezbollah? Second, as you in the press core know, there has been a multilateral force in Southern Lebanon for 28 years, the UN Interim Force in Lebanon, UNIFIL. Interesting name, interim, interim for 28 years. One question that we would have to ask in a very responsible way is what would make a new multilateral force different from or more effective than UNIFIL? I think that's an important question as we consider the possibility. And the third point, the third broad area of questioning would be whether we can ensure that a multilateral force would not undercut the policy laid down in Security Council Resolution 1559, which after all, calls for a democratic Lebanese government to exercise full sovereign control over its own territory. It should be the policy, as annunciated in 1559, to strengthen Lebanese institutions, not to create new multilateral institutions. So would such a force contribute to the institutional strength to the LAF, Lebanese Armed forces? Would it help implement and carry out 1559 or would we risk frustrating 1559? These are questions I think that it's important to consider, I'm sure there are others but those are some that we thought of this morning.

QUESTION: Do you expect any work to begin today on a draft resolution on Iran?

AMBASSADOR BOLTON: I would have expected that as of this morning, we would have been working on the Iran resolution, but Iran's proxies in the Middle East, Hamas and Hezbollah obviously have other work in mind, and that's one reason why we will be discussing the situation in Southern Lebanon this morning. I think that if Iran wanted to contribute positively to peace and security in the Middle East, it would have Hamas and Hezbollah release the captive Israeli soldiers.

QUESTION: What ideas do you have in mind as far as bringing in the two parties, Iran and Syria, into a resolution or a statement on Lebanon independently other than the ways that you're thinking of? And Secondly, when do you expect the team, the UN team, to return here?

AMBASSADOR BOLTON:Well I think that in the past two weeks, on behalf of the United States, I have given three statements in Security Council that talk about the relationship between Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah and Hamas. So I think in any resolution or other Council action we would be looking to implement those kinds of approaches in the text. We have been informed, in response to your second question, that the team should be back by the middle of this week so our hope has been that perhaps by Thursday we could get a direct briefing in the Security Council from the staff delegation and decide where we go from there. That's also, I think, an appropriate time to begin to consider a step the Council itself might take. Let me just take one more because I have to-

QUESTION: Why does the US appear to be not interested, blocking or reference call for a ceasefire?

AMBASSADOR BOLTON: I think that the question of the legitimate exercise of self defense, which the government of Israel is engaged in, is something that has to be considered very clearly. I think that before you get to a ceasefire you have to look at what the causes of the conflict are. I think you would have a ceasefire in a matter of nanoseconds if Hezbollah and Hamas would release their kidnap victims and stop engaging in rocket attacks and other acts of terrorism against Israel. I'll be back after.


Released on July 17, 2006

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