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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 
help Lebanon.

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 
equipment.

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 
Hariri.

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 
remarks.

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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