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Remarks on Lebanon and Pakistan

Amb. Zalmay Khalilzad, U.S. Permanent Representative ot the UN
Remarks to the media following a Security Council Stakeout
New York City
November 5, 2007


Ambassador Khalilzad: Good morning. We had a session on Lebanon, the implementation of 1559. We heard from Mr. Larsen. It's our view to support the judgments made by the Secretary-General in his report. One, that there is a need for a timely election of the president, that this election should take place on time and without foreign interference. We believe that in democracies presidents can get elected by a majority and we hope that there is the broadest possible support for the president that gets elected, but the election should take place on time without any interference. Second, we do also share some of the concerns expressed by the Secretary-General. The concern that Mr. Lahoud might not leave office as he should on the evening, the midnight of the 23rd of November, that's when his time runs out as president; or that an illegitimate separate government might be formed. We share that concern the Secretary-General has expressed and those outcomes would be unacceptable to the international community. It's very important, once again, to emphasize that a fair and free election for the president of Lebanon takes place on time. Lebanon's future is important, obviously, for the Lebanese. But it's also important for the region and the future of this region, as you've heard me, is the most important geopolitical issue that the world faces. And therefore, the Security Council will express itself to the president later on on this issue. Thank you very much. I'll be glad to take one or two questions.

Reporter: (inaudible) the United States against a consensus president?

Ambassador Khalilzad: Well, we are saying that the constitutional process has to be observed. I think if you demand consensus in every election that could lead to paralysis. A small group could prevent decisions from taking place. Of course, the broadest possible support consistent with the process, as demanded of the constitution, is the best way - the best way to go. And therefore, we say the constitution has to be observed and there should be non-interference. There has to be a strong president elected so that Lebanon can move forward in becoming a functioning democracy.

Reporter: Mr. Ambassador, does the United States believe that there is any appropriate role for the Security Council to play in reacting to the state of emergency declared in Pakistan? Any statement, any expression of concern that the Council as a whole should take in the U.S. view?

Ambassador Khalilzad: Well, we have stated our views on the situation in Pakistan. We oppose what has happened there. It goes against the expectation of the people Pakistan and the world, the move towards a democratization, towards a free and fair election. We have called on President Musharraf to move back within the constitutional process and to have elections - fair and free elections take place as scheduled. And we are very concerned and disturbed by what has happened. We oppose it.

Reporter: Well, wait a minute. The question was about the Security Council role, Mr. Ambassador.

Reporter: Thank you very much. Do you expect any presidential statement on this meeting today? And also, do you - how much are you caring about the armament in Lebanon?

Ambassador Khalilzad: Well, on the issue of the statement by the president, we have, several of us have recommended to him in the course of our comments that he ought to make a press statement reflecting the views that, as president, reflecting what he was hearing which is to call for a free and fair and timely election as being the essence of what he could communicate on behalf of the council to the world. And with regard to arms in Lebanon, we certainly are focused on it. The report focuses on it. It's our view that any effort to destabilize Lebanon from any regional state must be condemned. And second, that the report includes references to evidence that arms are coming across and the disturbing, also, information that was provided by the Prime Minister of Lebanon with regard to the support for the Fatah-Islam group, which we - several commended the efforts of the Lebanese army to bring that situation under control. So, 1559 and other resolutions call for arms - for militias to be disarmed and for the arms to be in the hands of the government of Lebanon.

Reporter: (Inaudible) you said, Mr. Ambassador, that a president of Lebanon can be elected by the majority. What do you mean by that, please?

Ambassador Khalilzad: Well, I mean, the - I mean, some people are talking about a consensus, some are talking about two-thirds. I am saying, expressing the view, that in many democracies a president gets elected by a majority and the constitution in Lebanon allows that. So the question of the option for an election by majority is there. So that was the point - keeping in the back of my mind the effort that, as my friend from - where is it, from Al Jazeera? What, did he disappear already? No, no said that why can't there be a consensus? Of course - oh, (inaudible). So, that's the point. It was in reaction to that.

Reporter: Mr. Ambassador, the resolution refers to that all countries should not interfere in Lebanon's affairs. Do you think that the United States is also interfering in Lebanon's affairs in one way or the other? So, do you think the U.S. role is a helpful role within the present circumstances?

Ambassador Khalilzad: Well, what we're asking for, I mean, you have to point out what we're doing that's unhelpful. But we believe we are being very helpful, calling on non-interference for a democratic process, for the Lebanese to decide, for arms to be in the hands of the elected government, for neighbors not to interfere, for those who have committed crimes such as assassinating Prime Minister Hariri or some of the other political leaders be brought to justice, for the Lebanese institutions to be strengthened. So, you'll have to tell me about anything that we are doing that goes against those principles that I just outlined.

Reporter: Mr. Ambassador, two questions, first, is there any talk in the council of what measures might be taken if the Lebanese elections do not come out - if there is no new president? Is there any talk of sanctions? And to go back to Bill's question, is there any possibility that the Security Council might take up the Pakistan question in anyway?

Ambassador Khalilzad: Well, I'm sorry, Bill that I did not respond to your point on the -- No. Today there is no plan to raise the issue of Pakistan. No one raised it for today.

Reporter: Why didn't you raise it?

Ambassador Khalilzad: We did not raise it also for today. And as far as your question is concerned, there was no discussion of steps if the elections are not taken - do not take place on time. The emphasis today was to send a clear, loud message that the Security Council, the international community, believes that the elections should take place on time without interference, based on the constitutional processes of Lebanon. Thank you very much.

Released on November 5, 2007

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