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U.S. Department of State
96/12/16 Remarks with Prime Minister Hariri to Friends of Lebanon Conf.
Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State
Office of the Spokesman
As Delivered December 16, 1996
OPENING REMARKS BY
SECRETARY OF STATE CHRISTOPHER
AND PRIME MINISTER HARIRI
TO THE FRIENDS OF LEBANON CONFERENCE
SECRETARY OF STATE CHRISTOPHER: Good morning. On behalf of President
Clinton, I am happy to welcome you to the Friends of Lebanon Conference.
My co-chair, Prime Minister Hariri, is a highly-valued partner in our
search for a just and comprehensive peace in the Middle East.
Such a peace, once achieved, will endure only if Lebanon and its
neighbors can achieve prosperity as well. I would like to thank all of
you for demonstrating the abiding commitment of your nations and
institutions to realizing our shared vision of a prosperous Middle East
at peace -- and in particular to assist Lebanon in its courageous effort
at reconstruction. Today let me also reaffirm U.S. support for the
sovereignty and territorial integrity of Lebanon, and for the ultimate
withdrawal from Lebanon of all foreign forces.
Since the historic Taif accord in 1989, Lebanon has emerged from a
tragic civil war that claimed tens of thousands of lives and devastated
one of the strongest economies in the Middle East. Prime Minister
Hariri, with your leadership, the hard work of your people, and the
support of Lebanon's many friends, your country has certainly made great
strides in reconstruction. But much more needs to be done to raise the
standard of living for the Lebanese people and to ensure that they will
benefit directly from economic reconstruction. Today we are meeting
together to determine how the international community can continue to
Let me briefly review the origins of this conference. In the wake of
last April's crisis in southern Lebanon, we negotiated a written
Understanding to end the hostilities and to stop the targeting of
civilians in future fighting. The Understanding also called for the
formation of two new groups -- a Monitoring Group for conflict
resolution and a Consultative Group for reconstruction assistance.
The Monitoring Group has been working very hard, and in the main
successfully, to ease tensions along the Israeli-Lebanon border. With
France assuming chairmanship of the Monitoring Group this month, the
United States will continue to strongly support and fully participate in
its work together with Lebanon, Israel, and Syria.
The Understanding also called for the establishment of a Consultative
Group, which has resulted in today's meeting of the Friends of Lebanon.
Our goal is to help ensure that Lebanon will develop over the long term
a mutual, beneficial partnership with the governments and private
institutions in interested countries, countries that want to assist
Lebanon. Building on the initiatives that Lebanon itself has begun, we
seek ways to help the Lebanese help themselves -- especially in
attracting private investment.
In order to maintain the momentum of its recent progress, Lebanon
requires support in three key areas -- the economic and social
infrastructure, the private sector, and the security forces of Lebanon.
The United States will help in each of the three areas.
First, we will increase our assistance for basic infrastructure,
agricultural development, education and training, and social services.
Second, our investment and trade agencies will work to expand the flow
of goods, services, and capital between our various private sectors.
Finally, we will bolster our training of Lebanese military officers, law
enforcement officers, and we'll continue to provide non-lethal defense
This assistance will contribute to the region's overall prosperity and
stability by helping Lebanon to resume its traditional role as a dynamic
trading center for the entire region. For too long, this region has
been held back not only by the destruction of war but also by the
inefficiencies of statist and protectionist economies. In recent years,
many of the region's nations have understood and recognized that if they
are to prosper in the fiercely competitive global economy, they must
embrace the realities and opportunities of the future. That is why many
of Lebanon's friends, along with their neighbors, are modernizing their
economies, opening their markets, cracking down on corruption, and
removing the bureaucratic bottlenecks that have scared off investors and
drained away precious capital. Lebanon's own commitment to free markets
has spurred reconstruction and made it an example for other nations. Of
course, this has been done under the strong leadership of Prime Minister
We are convinced that the Middle East peace process must move forward in
both its economic and political dimensions. Arabs and Israelis alike
continue to share a mutual interest in preserving these remarkable gains
that have been made and maintaining the basis for future progress.
In recent months, Palestinians and Israelis have been in particular
reminded that negotiation is the only real alternative to renewed
violence. The negotiations over Hebron in the last two months have been
very difficult. But nevertheless I remain optimistic that a final
agreement will soon be reached.
The United States will continue to work actively and patiently with the
parties to overcome the obstacles that stand in the way of full
implementation of agreements between Israel and the Palestinians. And
we will continue to work for the comprehensive peace that is so critical
to the prosperity and stability and security of the entire Middle East,
including Lebanon. President Clinton and my successor Ambassador
Albright are determined that America will continue to meet its
leadership responsibilities in the region of such vital interest to our
nation, to Lebanon, and the other nations of the region.
Lebanon particularly has a critical stake in the success of the Middle
East peace process. The work of the international community through
today's Friends of Lebanon conference is of great importance in the long
run. Not only will it help heal the wounds of war in Lebanon, but it
will also help us move closer to our broader goals of comprehensive
peace and region-wide prosperity.
When Prime Minister Hariri and I complete our introductory remarks, the
Prime Minister will open our discussion by laying out for you Lebanon's
progress, plans, and needs for assistance. I urge all of the
governments and institutions that are present here to do their very
utmost to meet the new requests. I know it will be a good conference.
I want to apologize in advance for needing to leave before the end of
the morning meeting. Foreign Minister Spring and I are due at the White
House for the meeting of the U.S.-EU summit. But this gives us an
opportunity in that setting as well to emphasize the importance of
assistance to Lebanon and to press forward on the peace process. Mr.
Prime Minister, I'm delighted to welcome you, and look forward to your
PRIME MINISTER HARIRI: Thank you. Mr. Chairman, Ministers,
Ambassadors, ladies and gentlemen: the convening of the first meeting
of the Friends of Lebanon represents the culmination of the efforts of
the Lebanese people and their aspiration for and faith in the
reaffirmation of the international community's commitment to support
Lebanon's revival. Since 1992, we have launched a reconstruction and
rehabilitation program, while donors and official League members have
supported our program. The funding of the initial phase of the program
was to a large extent based on a domestic effort. So far, the economic
results are encouraging, and the government restored the confidence of
its people in their country as well as the confidence of the world in
Lebanon. The continuing support of the international community will
ensure that the process of reconstruction will keep moving forward.
This conference demonstrates the continuing commitment of the
international community to support the Lebanese in rebuilding their
country after years of turmoil. On behalf of President Hrawi, the
Lebanese people, and the Lebanese government, I would like to extend a
warm thanks to President Clinton for actively sponsoring this important
event, and to Secretary Christopher for his painstaking efforts to
ensure the success of this meeting. The gratitude of the Lebanese
people and government is also extended for all the close friends of
Lebanon that are gathered here today, thereby declaring their keen
interest in Lebanon's future and in its ability to reclaim its active
role as a center of cultural exchange and an active contributor to the
betterment of humanity. Once again, I would like to extend my thanks to
each and every one who responded to the invitation, and to the U.S.
government, the sponsor and host of this conference. Thank you.
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