Welch: Palestinians in Lebanon, Everywhere Should Have Palestinian State

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Welch: Palestinians in Lebanon, Everywhere Should Have Palestinian State

Post by Admin on Sun Apr 20, 2008 6:09 am

U.S.
Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Welch on
Friday stressed that Palestinians living in Lebanon should have the
opportunity to live in their own Palestinian state.


"For
Palestinians everywhere, including in Lebanon, the future of
Palestinians lies in such a Palestinian state," Welch said after
meeting Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea in Maarab.


"President George Bush is the first American President ... to support the establishment of a Palestinian state," Welch added.

"It's
our belief that Palestinians living in Lebanon should have the
opportunity to live in their own state Palestine," he said.


Before
meeting Geagea, Welch held talks with Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah
Sfeir in Bkirki where he stressed the need for speedy presidential
elections in Lebanon.


"It is not tolerable that the leading Christian office of the land has been vacant for so long," Welch told reporters.

"The United States supports the Christian community in Lebanon.

"Truly free and patriotic Maronites should unite for the consensus," Welch insisted.

Welch
on Thursday met with representatives of the pro-government March 14
Forces as well as with Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri and Prime
Minister Fouad Saniora.


"We have tried dialogue over the years it's time for decision making," Welch said after talks with Saniora.

"The
parliament should open, it should meet, the election should happen
without further delay and should not be stalled by any other condition
whatsoever," he added.


Welch
accused the Hizbullah-led opposition and Syria, without naming them, of
trying the scuttle efforts to elect a head of state to replace
pro-Syrian Emile Lahoud, who stepped down at the end of his mandate in
November.

"Some
who have been influenced by outsiders have unilaterally taken steps to
arrest this political process, to facilitate their own goals ... and
those of their allies," said Welch.


"The future of Lebanon belongs to the Lebanese, not to any neighbors, not to the United States," he stressed.
He
said Washington supports an Arab League initiative which calls for the
immediate election of a president, the formation of a national unity
government and a new electoral law.


The initiative has stalled over the demand by the opposition to have veto power in the new government.

Welch's
visit comes days before lawmakers are scheduled to make an 18th attempt
in parliament to replace Lahoud, but there are no signs that the
session will take place for lack of agreement between the ruling March
14 coalition and the opposition.


Welch on Friday was also to meet with Berri as well as Druze leader Walid Jumblat.

On
the international tribunal set up to try those behind the 2005
assassination of ex-premier Rafik Hariri, Welch said it was an
"irreversible" process.


"It (the tribunal) is crucial to ending the era of impunity for political crimes and assassinations," he said.
Syria has been widely blamed of being behind Hariri's killing but has denied involvement.

U.S.
embassy spokeswoman Cherie Lenzen said Welch's previously unannounced
visit coincides with a ceremony on Friday to commemorate the 25th
anniversary of the U.S. embassy bombing in Beirut. More than 60 people
were killed, most of them embassy staff.


An
embassy statement said that families of the Lebanese victims of the
1983 attack will attend Friday's ceremony while the families of the
American victims will attend a parallel ceremony in the United States.


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