Ambassador DiCarlo: Good afternoon. Thank you. The Council just finished consultations on the Secretary-General’s report on implementation of Resolution 1701. You’re going to hear from our briefers – Special Coordinator Derek Plumbly and Under-Secretary Ladsous – in a bit more detail about their briefings. I just wanted to give you a sense of Council deliberations.
During the session, Council members reiterated their strong support for UNIFIL and expressed their appreciation for UNIFIL’s troop contributing countries. They welcome the calm along the Blue Line. Council members also expressed concern at the marked increase of cross-border fire from Syria into Lebanon, as well as incursions, abductions, arms trafficking along the Lebanese-Syrian border. They also condemned today’s bombing in Beirut and agreed on the need for the Council to speak with one voice in protecting Lebanon’s sovereignty and stability. Finally, Council members expressed their gratitude for the generosity of the people and government of Lebanon in welcoming more than now 590,000 refugees who have fled the violence in Syria. They expressed the need for international support to the Government of Lebanon to deal with this crisis.
Now, I’d like to just make a couple of comments in my national capacity. First, I’d like to stress that the United States is deeply concerned about the increasing cross-border attacks from parties to the Syrian conflict. In particular, Hizballah’s acknowledged participation in the Syrian conflict is an affront to the Government of Lebanon and the Baabda Declaration that established the disassociation policy. The United States is committed to supporting President Sleiman and the Lebanese Armed Forces as they seek to preserve stability in Lebanon, and we reiterate the need for progress on government formation, which must be a Lebanese process that reflects the aspirations of the Lebanese people and is conducted in a way that strengthens Lebanon's stability, sovereignty, and independence.
I’m happy to take a few questions.
Reporter: Ambassador, can you identify whether there will be two products from the Security Council – a press statement and a PRST expected tomorrow or after tomorrow? Make it clear for us please.
Ambassador DiCarlo: Absolutely. First of all, there is a press statement that is under review right now by the Council on the bombing that took place today, and we anticipate that that will be issued this evening. The Council members are reviewing a presidential statement now on the broader issue—the crisis in Lebanon because of the Syrian crisis—or the impact of the Syrian crisis on Lebanon. We anticipate that that statement will be adopted this week—at some point this week.
Reporter: Ambassador, regarding [inaudible] the White House spokesman said earlier that you didn’t know whether the U.S. [inaudible], so I was wondering if the U.S. is going to see this? Is it going to study it? Will you take it seriously? Will you also make public the U.S. [inaudible], which the administration has used to justify arming the rebels and which is opposed by the Secretary-General [inaudible]?
Ambassador DiCarlo: Okay, thank you. First of all, we’re aware of the Russian delegation’s announcement of their findings. We haven’t received the report yet, but we will certainly study it carefully when we do receive it. We’ve long called for governments to provide information to the United Nations on possible use of chemical weapons in Syria because we believe that the United Nations can independently ascertain the facts. Now, unfortunately, I mean—I must say that, despite apparently allowing access to a Russian team, the Syrian government has not allowed free access to the U.N. team that it initially requested. We continue to obviously support the U.N. investigative team. We support their investigating any and all credible allegations of the use of chemical weapons in Syria. We think it really could behoove the regime to allow such an investigation to take place but allow an investigation to take place, as I said, based on the conditions that have been set by the United Nations, which is to investigate any and all credible allegations.
Reporter: What about the U.S. make public evidence that it has that it’s using to justify arming the rebels [inaudible]?
Ambassador DiCarlo: First of all, we have conveyed to the United Nations the information at hand. We’ve had very lengthy discussions with Mr. Sellstrom on the information that we have. We’ve provided to the team that is going to be investigating.
Reporter: Ambassador, to follow up on that, in that case, is the invitation extended to Sellstrom by the Syrian government to go to Damascus—is that sufficient? Is that subpar? I mean, how would you characterize it? And also, Churkin in his press conference pretty much dismissed findings by the French, Brits, and the U.S. Would you address that?
Ambassador DiCarlo: First of all, our understanding from what we have heard the Syrian government say publicly—what we heard Ambassador Ja’afari say yesterday—is that Mr. Sellstrom is invited in, but he is not invited in to look at any and all allegations, in particular the allegations that have been conveyed to him by the U.S., the U.K., and France. Now we have been very clear that the information that we have provided is the result of a very thorough assessment – a very thorough assessment – by the United States that indicates to a very high degree of confidence that chemical weapons were used on a small scale on multiple occasions. We’ve also said, and we continue to say, we do not have any information that indicates that the opposition has either obtained or used chemical weapons. Thank you.
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