Rice makes it clear that US, international community couldn't ever tolerate
"reassertion of Syrian authority in Lebanon." She adds that Syria and Iran
must not think that Lebanon's future is up for negotiation. On Iran she says
she is optimistic about UN Security Council resolution imposing sanctions on
AFP Published: 12.12.06, 06:08 YNET
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice warned Syria and Iran in an exclusive
interview with AFP that the "future of Lebanon is not an issue for
In an exclusive interview with AFP, Rice rejected mounting calls to deal
directly with Damascus and Tehran as part of efforts to end the crisis in
Iraq and said the two states should have no doubts about Washington's
commitment to the embattled government of Lebanon.
"In no way is the US going to get into a situation where it is even a
conceivable notion on the part of Syria or Iran that the future of Lebanon
would somehow be compromised for other interests of the US," she said.
"I want to make it very clear that the future of Lebanon is not an issue for
negotiation with anybody," she said.
Massive street protests organized by the Iranian- and Syrian-backed Shiite
movement Hizbullah have been seeking to topple the government of Prime
Minister Fouad Siniora for the past week.
The protracted deadlock has paralyzed the Western-backed government as
opposition Shiite and Christian protesters have clogged the capital in an
escalating campaign to force a new national unity administration.
"It's just extremely important that we be very clear: we understand who
Lebanon's enemies are and those that are trying to bring down the Siniora
government," Rice said.
"There is no way that the United States or the international community could
ever countenance a reassertion of Syrian authority in Lebanon," she said.
'Optimistic' about resolution against Iran
Rice said she was "optimistic" the resolution aimed at convincing Iran to
suspend its nuclear enrichment program, would pass soon, though she stopped
short of predicting a final vote before the end of the year.
"It has to be voted soon. I think this has gone on long enough," she said.
The six major powers dealing with the issue -- Britain, China, France,
Russia, the United States and Germany, have been negotiating for weeks over
the terms of a sanctions resolution. But agreement proved elusive as Russia
and China objected to an earlier European draft as too harsh, while
Washington felt it did not go far enough.
But Rice said on Monday that she was satisfied with the latest version,
notably because it will be voted under Chapter 7 of the UN charter, which
makes the measures mandatory for all UN members.
"It establishes Chapter 7, which to my mind is the most important element
here," she said.
"It would make very clear to the Iranians that they are not going to be able
to pursue this program and remain integrated into the international system
and I would hope would give them pause so they might consider coming back to
negotiations," she said.
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