Powered by WebAds

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Rice visits Beirut

US Secretary of State Condaleeza Rice made a surprise trip to Beirut today. She met with Lebanese President Fouad Siniora, pledged humanitarian aid for the Lebanese, and also met with Nabi Berri, the pro-Syrian Shiite parliamentary speaker and the only member of the Lebanese government to maintain contact with Hezbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah since the war began.

I have heard three different descriptions of the Rice - Berri meeting. According to the Washington Post:
According to a Lebanese political source quoted by Reuters news agency, Rice told Berri, the speaker of the Lebanese parliament and a strong ally of Syria, that the situation on the Israeli-Lebanese border "cannot return to what it was before July 12." She referred to the date on which fighters of the radical Shiite Hezbollah organization, which is supported by Syria and Iran, crossed into Israel, killed three Israeli soldiers and abducted two others, triggering the current crisis.

The Lebanese source, describing the meeting's tone as "very negative," said Rice told Berri there would be no cease-fire before Hezbollah freed the soldiers unconditionally and pulled its forces back at least 12 miles from the border, Reuters reported.

Welch said the meeting with Berri was quite emotional, but he said it was "unfair" to characterize it as negative.
According to LebaneseBloggers:
Her most noted meeting was with the Speaker of Lebanon's Parliament, and head of the Amal Movement, Nabih Berri. Some time over the last week, Berri also declared himself as the intermediary of Hizballah with the International Community. The meeting with Rice lasted for 55 minutes, and according to reports, the two were not able to arrive at an agreement.

* Rice demanded a cease fire, the withdrawal of Hizballah from land South of the Litani, the deployment of the Lebanese Army along with a beefed up UNIFIL contingent in a new Buffer Zone, and the release of the kidnapped Israeli soldiers.

* Berri's position was a demand for an immediate cease fire and the launch of negotiations for an exchange of prisoners, as a first step to diffusing the conflict. He then said that disarming Hizballah, and deploying the Lebanese Army to the South would constitute a second, strictly Lebanese phase, that would play out in the National Dialogue Round Table.

According to DEBKAfile, Berri refused to play any role in achieving a ceasefire or the return of the two Israeli hostages.

Given that the US has agreed that there is no going back to where we were two weeks ago, I wonder whether Israel will be given more time than we expected. Provided that the IDF ensures that the 'humanitarian' situation in Lebanon doesn't get any worse.


At 2:23 AM, Blogger Baron Bodissey said...


I've gotten a little paranoid about all this, which you know if you've been to Gates of Vienna lately.

I'm afraid that Saudi Arabia is yanking on Bush's chain, and Condi is going to yank on Israel's.

I hope I'm wrong.

We'll know if the U.S. strongarms Israel into some kind of "ceasefire" before Hizbullah is operationally destroyed.


Post a Comment

<< Home