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World Council for the Cedars Revolution

Aug 04th
Home arrow News Content arrow Blog arrow Blog Items arrow Extremism In Lebanon arrow Former President Jimmy Carter - Update/Videos
Former President Jimmy Carter - Update/Videos PDF Print E-mail
Written by LBCi, Naharnet, Dailystar, AP, USA Today   
Friday, 12 December 2008

Former President Jimmy Carter paying his respect at Rafic Hariri's Gravesite with Saad Hariri background.
Former President Jimmy Carter paying his respect at Rafic Hariri's Gravesite with Saad Hariri background.

Carter fleshes out offer to monitor Lebanese elections

Carter offers to monitor Lebanese election

BEIRUT (AP) — Former President Jimmy Carter offered Thursday to monitor Lebanon's parliament elections next year — a vote that will be fiercely contested between the militant Hezbollah group and its rival pro-Western parties.

Carter proposed a monitoring mission by his Atlanta-based Carter Center during a Beirut meeting with the interior minister, Ziad Baroud, who welcomed the offer but said the Cabinet must approve it. The vote has to be held between April 20 and June 20, though no specific date has been set. The interior ministry is in charge of organizing and overseeing the elections.

Carter also met members of parliamentary blocs, but he did not meet with lawmakers from Hezbollah. The militant group is on the State Department's terrorist list. Carter said he is ready to meet with Hezbollah but they refuse to meet current or former U.S. presidents.

The vote is crucial for both the Western-backed anti-Syrian groups that hold majority seats in the current 128-member parliament and the Hezbollah-led coalition backed by Syria and Iran seeking to take over.

Carter told reporters after meeting Baroud that his center "looks forward with great anticipation" to the mission, if approved by the government.

"We have nothing to hide," Baroud said. "On the contrary we are working in a very transparent way. We want these elections to be held in the best form."

Later Thursday, Carter met with members of various parliament blocs but not with lawmakers from Hezbollah, a militant Shiite group on the U.S. State Department's terrorist list. Carter has said he is ready to meet with Hezbollah officials but they refuse to meet current or former U.S. presidents.

Still, Carter met with some Hezbollah allies, including Christian leader Michel Aoun and members of parliament Speaker Nabih Berri's bloc.

After Lebanon, where he arrived Tuesday, Carter is heading to Syria on Saturday.

In the Syrian capital of Damascus, a senior Hamas official said that the former U.S. president will meet the militant Palestinian group's exiled leadership on Sunday.

The official said Carter would discuss with Hamas officials the fate of Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit, who was captured by Hamas-linked militants near Gaza in 2006 and held hostage since. A possible truce between Hamas and Israel will also be on the agenda.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not permitted to speak publicly about the meeting which he said will take place Sunday.

Carter was widely criticized in April when he met in Syria with the exiled Hamas leader, Khaled Mashaal. The U.S. also labels Hamas as a terrorist organization.

The Mashaal-Carter meeting led to the delivery of a handwritten letter from Schalit to his parents.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press



Lebanon - lbci report - Tania Mhanna - 11/12/2008


Lebanon - lbci report - Bassam Abou Zeid - 10/12/2008


Lebanon - lbci report - Denise Rahme Fakhry - 09/12/2008



Carter fleshes out offer to monitor Lebanese elections
Baroud: cabinet has final say
By Andrew Wander
Daily Star staff
Friday, December 12, 2008

BEIRUT: Former US President Jimmy Carter detailed a proposal to send a monitoring mission to oversee next year's parliamentary elections during a meeting with Interior Minister Ziad Baroud on Thursday. If accepted, a team would be dispatched from the Carter Center in Atlanta to monitor next year's vote, which is expected to be extremely close.

Baroud welcomed Carter's suggestion but emphasized that he would need Cabinet approval to formally accept the plan. 

Next year's elections are due to be held between April and June, but no date has been fixed by the Interior Ministry as yet. Analysts are predicting a tight race between the anti-Syrian March 14 Forces and the Hizbullah-led March 8 coalition.

Baroud said he would be pleased to have Carter's monitoring team in the country when the vote was held.

"We have nothing to hide," he said. "On the contrary we are working in a very transparent way. We want these elections to be held in the best form."

Carter said that if the mission was approved, he would look forward to it "great anticipation" to its deployment.

It is unlikely that everyone in Lebanon will feel the same way. Hizbullah, which is labeled a "terrorist" group by Washington, turned down a meeting with Carter on the basis that it don't meet with members of any US administration. Some of Hizbullah's allies, however, have met with the former president.

Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun and members of Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri's parliamentary bloc both spent time on Thursday with Carter, who has said he wants to meet all political leaders in Lebanon during his trip. 

Carter also visited the grave of late Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, where he laid a wreath while accompanied by the slain leader's son, parliamentary majority leader Saad Hariri.

The former president also met Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, Phalange Party leader Amin Gemayel, and Lebanese Forces boss Samir Geagea.

Carter began a five-day trip to Lebanon on Tuesday. he has already met with President Michel Suleiman and will speak at AUB tomorrow, before heading to Syria on Saturday, where he will meet President Bashar Assad and the exiled leadership of Palestinian group Hamas.

Earlier this year Carter met with Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal in Damascus, sparking controversy and condemnation from those who consider the group a terrorist organization.

But a senior Hamas official in Damascus told the Associated Press that Carter wanted to meet with officials from the group to discuss the case of Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier who has been held prisoner by the group for more than two years.

Carter's last meeting with Hamas facilitated the delivery of a handwritten letter from Shalit to his parents.

The former president is also said to be keen to discuss the prospects of a truce between Hamas and Israel with members of the Palestinian group.

Carter forged the Camp David Accords between Israel and Egypt and has dedicated his time since leaving office to promoting peace and human rights around the world. He has also authored several books, including "Palestine: Peace not Apartheid." - With agencies



Carter urges Lebanon, Israel to 'seize opportunity to work toward peace'
Hizbullah 'refuses' to meet with visiting former US president
By Nicholas Kimbrell
Daily Star staff
Thursday, December 11, 2008

BEIRUT: Former US President Jimmy Carter met with President Michel Sleiman Wednesday, before being flown to Naqoura in South Lebanon for a meeting with United Nations peacekeepers. The presidential visit and trip to the South came as Hizbullah reportedly declined an invitation to meet with the former head of state.

Carter, on a five-day visit to Lebanon, told reporters after speaking with Sleiman that he was pleased to back in Lebanon. "I am happy to come back to this great country - a country that has dedicated itself to peace, stability, progress, freedom and human rights."

The renowned peace activist and Nobel laureate, said he was honored to have met with Sleiman, who, Carter said, has earned the trust of the Lebanese people and the rest of the world.

Carter also expressed the hope that Lebanon's springtime elections would be "successful and safe," adding that he might return with a team of election observers to monitor the fairness and transparency of the polls.

Early in his distinguished post-presidency, Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, founded the Carter Center, a not-for-profit organization partnered with Emory University that is devoted to a variety of human rights causes across the world. The center based in Atlanta, Georgia has a long history of monitoring developing world elections, from Venezuela to Nepal.

On Tuesday, the day Carter arrived in Beirut, Interior Minister Ziyad Baroud, charged with preparing Lebanon for the elections, said he had not been contacted by Carter about election monitoring.

But he did not dismiss the prospect. "I believe it is in the interest of Lebanon to open the door to any observation," he said, adding that any decision on electoral oversight would have to be approved by the Cabinet.

After meeting with Sleiman, Carter took an aerial tour of the Blue Line in South Lebanon and spoke with United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) officials. "I strongly urge all parties to seize this opportunity to work toward peace," Carter told the troops.

UNIFIL commander, Claudio Graziano, said that Carter's visit "testifies to the international community's support for our mission and underlines the importance of the continued commitment of the parties to their respective obligations under UN Security Council Resolution 1701."

In an opinion piece published Wednesday in The Washington Post, commemorating the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Carter voiced the hope that President-elect Barack Obama's new administration could usher in a new era of effective American diplomatic leadership in the region and across the world.

"Throughout the Middle East, there is hope that the United States will move more aggressively and persistently to help orchestrate a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the prism through which the region measures the US commitment to human rights," Carter wrote.

"Our next president has an unprecedented opportunity to lead through example by inspiring and supporting those who would reach for freedom and by being tough and effective with those who would impede freedom's march," he added.

In a statement released before Carter's arrival in Lebanon, the director of the Carter Center's Conflict Resolution Program, Hrair Balian said that "during his visit, President Carter will discuss recent developments in Lebanon and the Middle East with officials and representatives of major political blocs in Parliament and civil society leaders."

And on Tuesday, Carter said that he was hoping to meet with Hizbullah officials. "I am going to meet with all of the political parties as possible," Carter said after arriving in Beirut.

But Wednesday, Rick Jasculca, a spokesman for Carter, told AFP that although Carter had sought meetings with all major political players, "Hizbullah had declined the request."

Hizbullah foreign relations chief Nawaf Moussawi told The Daily Star Wednesday that he was not following up on the issue. But the leader of Hizbullah's parliamentary bloc, MP Mohammad Raad, told AFP that the group "does not meet with anyone from a US administration which supports Zionist terrorism."

Regarding the Carter Center's potential monitoring role in the springtime polls, Raad said the party "will accept whatever decision the Cabinet makes."

In the past, there has been some tension between Carter and the US State Department over his unofficial diplomatic missions. Carter, long active in the Middle East peace process, published a hotly-debated book, "Palestine Peace not Apartheid," in 2006, and in April he visited Israel, the Occupied West Bank, Jordan and Syria. The trip was not coordinated through the US Sate Department.

Cherie Lenzen, the public affairs officer for the US Embassy in Lebanon, said of Carter's current trip, that "President Carter is on a private visit."

According to Carter's comments Wednesday and the Carter Center press release, after his visit to Lebanon, he will travel to Syria to meet with President Bashar Assad. The two are expected to discuss the prospects for Middle East peace.

News reports have suggested that Carter may also meet with Hamas representatives in Damascus. During his controversial visit to Damascus earlier this year, Carter met with exiled Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal.

Carter, the 39th American president and a chief architect of the first Camp David Accord, will be speaking Friday to an audience of students, faculty and invited guests at American University of Beirut.



Carter Urges Israel to Withdraw from Lebanon

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter on Friday urged Israel to withdraw from "sovereign Lebanon" and Syria to demarcate the joint borders with Lebanon.

Carter, addressing a press conference, also expressed hope that Lebanon would manage to hold "peaceful, transparent and democratic" –parliamentary elections in the spring of 2009.

Carter urged Lebanese voters to "turn out heavily" at balloting stations to "choose their leaders without any external influence."

Carter said he was "proud of the developing relations between Lebanon and Syria," hoping that Beirut and Damascus would exchange ambassadors and demarcate borders soon."

Beirut, 12 Dec 08, 14:22



Carter to Ask Assad for Speedy Exchange of Embassies with Lebanon

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter on Thursday announced that he would encourage Syrian President Bashar Assad to speed up the setting up of diplomatic ties with Lebanon.

Carter, talking to reporters after meeting Premier Fouad Saniora, said he would visit Syria on Saturday for talks with Assad.

He said exchanging diplomatic ties "soon would be a major step forward along the march to achieve peace in the region."

He also expressed "hope" that Israel would soon withdraw from the Shebaa Farms and the Lebanese sector of the southern village of Ghadjar, saying "such step would encourage spread peace throughout the region."

Carter said he delivered a memo to Saniora and Interior Minister Ziad Baroud "offering our services in monitoring" the forthcoming parliamentary elections.

Beirut, 11 Dec 08, 22:17



Carter Wants to Monitor Lebanon's Elections

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter on Thursday officially asked for a permit allowing his team to monitor Lebanon's forthcoming elections.

The request was presented to Interior Minister Ziad Baroud in a meeting after which Carter told reporters "we've done this in several countries."

He said monitoring the elections aims at facilitating an honest and transparent practice.

Baroud, however, recalled that article 20 of the elections law permits "international monitoring of the elections."

A comprehensive approach to this topic is being prepared and the cabinet would tackle it when the text is ready, Baroud said.

Lebanon, Baroud added, should "welcome any request to monitor the elections. We have nothing to hide."

"We operate in a transparent manner and we want the process to be achieved in the best possible manner," he added.

Carter held a series of separate talks at parliament with Speaker Nabih Berri's Liberation and Development Bloc, Change and Reform Bloc leader Michel Aoun, Popular Bloc leader Elias Skaff and Tashnag Party leader Hovik Mukhtarian.

Carter also met Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea, Mustaqbal Movement leader Saad Hariri and Phalange Party leader Amin Gemayel.

Beirut, 11 Dec 08, 18:36



Carter Meets Suleiman, Visits UNIFIL HQ

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter on Wednesday held talks with President Michel Suleiman and visited headquarters of U.N. peacekeepers in south Lebanon.

Carter, talking to reporters at the Baabda Palace, expressed hope the forthcoming parliamentary elections would be honest and transparent.

He also expressed hope to visit Lebanon in the spring of 2009 to follow up the general elections.

Shortly after the talks with Suleiman, Carter was flown to the southern border town of Naqoura where he visited headquarters of the U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). 

Beirut, 10 Dec 08, 14:29





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