Remarks With Former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri
Secretary of State
April 22, 2015
SECRETARY KERRY: Well, good morning, everybody. It’s my pleasure to welcome to Washington and to the State Department the former prime minister of Lebanon and a good friend personally. Each time that I have gone to Beirut, almost every time, I’ve had occasion to be able to visit with Saad Hariri. And he has worked for moderation and for thoughtful political compromise to try to move this country forward. He’s worked through very difficult challenges, obviously.
And we’re particularly, here in the United States, committed to Lebanon’s stability and security. We’re anxious to see the presidency ultimately filled and to try to see the effects of Daesh and Nusrah and Syria moved away from Lebanon so that Lebanon can really have its sovereignty respected and its future protected and guaranteed.
So we have a lot to talk about, because right now, there are some 1.2 million refugees who have spilled over from Syria into Lebanon that destabilizes the country. We are very opposed to entities like Hizballah and others using locations and places in Lebanon and nearby as pawns in this struggle. And we call on Iran and the Assad regime and others to respect the integrity of Lebanon, and permit it and its people to be able to find the peace and the stability that they have longed for so long.
So we have a lot to talk about, and I’m very, very happy to welcome the former prime minister here. I know he remains very active and is very important to the politics of his country. And we will continue to support the Lebanese Armed Forces and the forces of moderation and those who want to work together peacefully to provide the future that the people of Lebanon deserve.
MR. HARIRI: Thank you. I want to thank you, Mr. Secretary, for having me here. Yes, we do have a lot to talk about. Lebanon is living a very difficult time. The region also is in a very, very dangerous time also, I would say. The involvement of certain factions like Hizballah in Iran also – and in Lebanon or in Syria or in Iraq or in Yemen has grown to a point that is extremely dangerous. We believe that Iran has a good – a country that we all need to deal with, and we believe that interfering into Lebanon is not something that we would like as Lebanese people.
I would like to thank you for the support of the Lebanese army. This is something that we try to always help, because this is the basic of our security. We’re facing Daesh; we’re facing Nusrah; we’re facing al-Qaida on our borders. We have 1.2 million refugees, like you said, and we need to elect a president. So hopefully, we’ll have some good talks. Thank you.
SECRETARY KERRY: Look forward to it. Thank you. Welcome. Thank you very much, folks. Thank you.