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U.S. Department of State
96/10/17 Remarks with Lebanese Prime Minister Hariri
Office of the Spokesman
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Office of the Spokesman
For Immediate Release October 17, 1996
SECRETARY OF STATE WARREN CHRISTOPHER
LEBANESE PRIME MINISTER RAFIQ AL-HARIRI
PRIOR TO THEIR MEETING
Department of State
October 17, 1996
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: Good afternoon. I am very pleased to welcome
Prime Minister Hariri to Washington. I have worked very closely with
the Prime Minister. I know how highly valued he is as a partner in our
search for a comprehensive peace in the Middle East and of course, how
useful he is in the reconstruction of his country. In addition to our
meeting today, the Prime Minister will be meeting with President Clinton
at the White House tomorrow. I know that will be a high point in his
Lebanon's continuing recovery is one of the many hopeful things that has
taken place in the Middle East during the last several years. One of
the things that we will be discussing today is the five-party monitoring
group that was established in the wake of last April's crisis in
southern Lebanon. I want to pay tribute to the Prime Minister for his
role in working with me to set up that monitoring group.
I will use this occasion to reiterate United States' support for the
sovereignty and territorial integrity of Lebanon, and for our position
that there should be a withdrawal of all foreign forces from Lebanon.
We are going to be pressing ahead in our search for a comprehensive
We'll also be discussing today the program for Lebanon's reconstruction.
The United States is one of the driving forces in assembling what we
call "The Friends of Lebanon," a very important international effort to
contribute to the rebuilding process in Lebanon.
Finally, we're going to be discussing our increasing contacts between
our two governments and the growth of commercial ties. We'll be talking
about the security of Lebanon, particularly as it affects our travel
restrictions. I think you all know that we are anxious to remove those
remaining travel restrictions just as soon as security conditions will
permit us to do so. As I have in the past in connection with these
restrictions, I'll be consulting closely with the members of Congress
who are particularly interested in Lebanon.
Mr. Prime Minister it's nice to see you here in Washington.
PRIME MINISTER HARIRI: Thank you, thank you very much.
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: You're welcome to say a few words if you would.
PRIME MINISTER HARIRI: Thank you Mr. Secretary. I am very pleased to
come here and to meet with you. We have worked, as you have just
mentioned, together during several occasions, and our cooperation was
successful. We have participated in making things happen. I hope that
the United States will help Lebanon in the reconstruction and also to
find peace in our region and to liberate our territory. We hope that
our meeting will be fruitful, and I'm sure that as you have done always,
you will put the effort necessary to help my country in finding itself
again and participate in the peace in the Middle East. Thank you.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, Mr. Minister with the usual apologies of
switching the subject, but I'm sure you understand why. In the U.S.
assessment, was Mr. Lebed posing any sort of an internal challenge to
Mr. Yeltsin who had, obviously, unstinting U.S. support?
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: I'm not going to comment in any way on the
action taken by President Yeltsin today in Moscow. That's an internal
Russian matter. I will say that matters are going forward in the
customary way between the United States and Russia. My colleague,
Secretary Perry, is in Moscow today and he's had good meetings with his
opposite number and with the Prime Minister. So, the relationship
between the United States and Russia is a stable one, and moving forward
in a routine way.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, Lebanon is interested in lethal military aid,
helicopters, armored personnel carriers, P-3 observation aircraft. Is
it premature for the United States to grant those requests?
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: I'm not going to get into any particular kind of
equipment, but the United States wants to cooperate with the government
of Lebanon in reinforcing its armed forces and making available more
appropriate excess defense articles. We are anxious to assist the
government of Lebanon in that respect. As I said, I'm not going to get
into any specific items of equipment. That's a question better
addressed to Secretary Perry or someone at the Pentagon.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, what about the American ban concerning
PRIME MINISTER HARIRI: Travel ban.
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: Travel ban? We have eased the restrictions
somewhat, as you know, but the travel ban does remain in effect. As I
said in my remarks, we would like to remove that travel ban just as soon
as security conditions permit. We have the matter under regular
periodic review -- it's one of the things that I'll be discussing with
the Prime Minister. As I say, we are very hopeful that that can be
removed at sometime in the future. But it really depends upon a very
careful appraisal of the security situation, because above all things,
we need to be prudent in this matter.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, the Lebanese government maintains that
security has been improved in the country. And your people in Beirut
confirmed that too. What is required that the Lebanese government
specifically to do, because you keep reviewing the ban every six months.
What is required that the Lebanese government to do specifically for you
either to lift the ban or to reduce it to travel advisory?
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: We'll have to examine the situation -- we have
responsibilities to American citizens traveling there. We have a
responsibility not to create a situation that could set back the very
positive course that American-Lebanese relations are on. I can't
prescribe a particular set of steps that would make that possible,
except to say that the United States hopes we can do that -- hope that
we can lift that travel ban and change it to an advisory. But we'll
only do that at a time we feel that American citizens will not be in
jeopardy when they go there. We review this just as conscientiously as
we can, having in mind some of the past history, and some of the fact
that the United States plays a particular role in that region. Thank
you very much.
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