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World Council for the Cedars Revolution

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Bush about Lebanon at Press Conference by the President PDF Print E-mail
Written by Whitehouse   
Wednesday, 30 April 2008

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Rose Garden - President Bush Discusses Phone Call made to PM Siniora today, as well as Iranian Syrian Hezbollah destabilization efforts in Lebanon and the Region

The White House, President George W. Bush

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
April 29, 2008

Press Conference by the President
Rose Garden

 

Q Mr. President, thank you, sir. Previously when asked about Israel's September bombing of the Syrian facility, you refused aggressively to discuss it. Then suddenly last week, your administration released classified photos and details of that bombing, intelligence officials claiming that it showed that this facility was a North Korean-designed nuclear facility being actually built with the help of Pyongyang. Why the turnaround, sir? What did you hope that that would accomplish? And what do you say to lawmakers of both parties on Capitol Hill who are quite concerned that indeed if this was what this facility was, that it took some eight months for you to inform them, sir?

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Let me correct the record. We briefed 22 members of Congress on what I'm about to tell you. First, we were concerned that an early disclosure would increase the risk of a confrontation in the Middle East or retaliation in the Middle East. As I mentioned to you early on, we did notify 22 members of Congress, key committee chairmen. And I was -- I'm mindful that there was going to be this kind of reaction, and of course, we wanted to include more members of Congress at a time when we felt the risk of retaliation or confrontation in the Middle East was reduced, and so that moment came upon us, and then extended the briefings.

We also wanted to advance certain policy objectives through the disclosures, and one would be to the North Koreans, to make it abundantly clear that we may know more about you than you think, and therefore, it's essential that you have a complete disclosure on not only your plutonium activities, but proliferation, as well as enrichment activities.

And then we have an interest in sending a message to Iran, and the world for that matter, about just how destabilizing a -- nuclear proliferation would be in the Middle East, and that it's essential that we work together to enforce U.N. Security Council resolutions aimed at getting Iran to stop their enrichment programs. In other words, one of the things that this example shows is that these programs can exist and people don't know about them -- because the Syrians simply didn't declare the program; they had a hidden program.

And finally, we wanted to make it clear to Syria -- and the world -- that their intransigence in dealing with helping us in Iraq, or destabilizing Lebanon, or dealing with Hamas -- which is a destablizing force in our efforts to have a Palestinian state coexist peacefully with Israel -- that those efforts are -- gives us a chance to remind the world that we need to work together to deal with those issues. So that's why we made the decision we made.


Q Do you feel your foreign policy in the Middle East has been undermined by Jimmy Carter's meeting with Hamas leaders? What harm does it do for him to have met with Hamas leaders?

THE PRESIDENT: Foreign policy and peace is undermined by Hamas in the Middle East. They're the ones who are undermining peace. They're the ones whose foreign policy objective is the destruction of Israel. They're the ones who are trying to create enough violence to stop the advance of the two-party state solution. They are a significant problem to world peace -- or Middle Eastern peace.

And that's the reason I'm not talking to them. And that's the reason why -- it's just important for people to understand that this is a -- we're in a -- we're witnessing a struggle between those who understand liberty and believe in the advance of liberty, and those who want to stop the advance of liberty. And Hamas has made their position very clear.

Unfortunately, they're getting help; in Syria, they get help. There's rumors about Iranian help. And these countries that I just named are -- take, for example, Lebanon. I talked to Prime Minister Siniora today. Here's a struggling democracy in the heart of the Middle East that is -- whose internal politics are being influenced by Syria, Hezbollah -- as a result of Iranian influence with Hezbollah -- all aiming to destabilize the country, which should be a clear signal about the intents of -- the intentions of groups like Hezbollah and Hamas.

So when you want to talk about peace being difficult in the Middle East -- it's going to be difficult, but it's even made more difficult by entities like Hamas, who insist upon lobbing rockets into Israel, trying to provoke response and trying to destabilize -- even destabilize the region more.

And anybody can talk to who they want, but I just want the people to understand that the problem is Hamas. And until Hamas changes, or until there's a competing vision in the Middle East for President Abbas, Prime Minister Fayyad to offer to the Palestinian people, that's all the more reason to try to define a state, and that's why I'm going to the Middle East, besides going to the 60th anniversary of Israel.

http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2008/04/print/20080429-1.html



 
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