U.S. and Lebanon Defense Secretary counterparts meet

March 11th, 2007 | Posted in Corporate Media

    Associated Press: Friday, March 9th, 2007


Washington D.C. – Lebanon’s Minister of Defense Elias Murr met with the newly appointed U.S. Secretary of Defense on Thursday at the Pentagon.

Murr’s U.S. trip has echoed the support of the United Nations, State Department and Pentagon.

Defense Minister Elias Murr has said there was no reason for Syria to close its border with Lebanon since U.N. peacekeeping troops are not going to deploy along the frontier.

“They will not close the border because UNIFIL is not going to deploy there,” Murr told reporters after meeting U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates at the Pentagon on Thursday.

He was responding to an announcement by Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem in which he threatened to close the Lebanese-Syrian border if international troops were deployed along the boundary.

Murr said Gates reiterated the support of the United States for the Lebanese military without any restrictions.

He said that Gates informed him that the Lebanese army will receive the “entire shipment of equipment before the end of June.”

In response to a question, Murr said that the issue of disarming Hizbullah was not raised.

“The army position is clear. This is an internal issue. Neither the United States nor any other country has got to do with it,” Murr insisted, adding that the problem will be solved domestically.

U.S. Stresses Support for Lebanese Army

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told Deputy Premier and Defense Minister Elias Murr Tuesday that the US supports the Lebanese Army “unconditionally,” after the two officials met in Washington in a visit aimed at shoring up support for the army.

“We discussed the implementation of Resolution 1701 and the cooperation between the Lebanese Army and the international peacekeeping force,” Murr told reporters after the meeting.

He said the US expressed support for the army and would be sending equipment, “without any conditions.”

“Rice reiterated the US support for Lebanon’s sovereignty and independence,” he said.

“We confirmed that the Lebanese Army is capable of monitoring its borders and it is a united force without any divisions,” said Murr, adding: “as long as the Lebanese Army exists, there will be no civil war in Lebanon.”

Murr said that specialized radar equipment would be added along the borders, without specifying which borders.

Murr met with UN chief Ban Ki-moon Monday and assured him Lebanon is in full compliance of Resolution 1701, which ended the summer 2006 war and brought about a cessation of hostilities.

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