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Meetings & statements during the 59th UN General Assembly

Meeting with Iyad Allawi, Prime Minister of Iraq - 25/9/2004

Deputy Prime Minister Issam Fares met Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi and they reviewed bilateral relations, the general situation in the Middle East, the security situation in Iraq as well as the future promotion of economic relations between Iraq and Lebanon.

UN Secretary-General expresses his understanding of Lebanon's position regarding the Constitutional amendment - 25/9/2004

Deputy Prime Minister Issam Fares described the results of his meetings with various UN officials, including the Secretary-General’s representative in the Middle East, Mr. Terje Roed Larsen to be “positive”. He said that their understanding of the Lebanese position was satisfactory.

Fares told the journalists accompanying him on his mission, “The Secretary-General and his staff have expressed their appreciation of our position regarding the constitutional amendment after we explained the legal procedure taken. But when they raised the question of the hasty adoption of the amendment, we responded that the haste was in the adoption of the Security Council Resolution”. He added that he believed that local politics was the cause of this action, and that this was behind us now. “As for the other section in resolution 1559, we consider it a matter for us to decide. It is based on agreements concluded between Lebanon and Syria. We and the Syrians shall determine what is in the best interest of our country. In the past we faltered after listening to other states, and discovered that no one cared for our interests. Their own interests were their main concern”.

Fares expressed his satisfaction for the full understanding expressed by the Secretary-General, and his decision to convey Lebanon’s position in his report including other information available to the United Nations.

Reception held by Prince Albert of Monaco - 24/9/2004

The Deputy Prime Minister of Lebanon, Mr. Issam Fares attended the reception held by Prince Albert of Monaco.

Visiting the Permanent Mission of Lebanon in the United Nations - 24/9/2004

The Deputy Prime Minister of Lebanon, Mr. Issam Fares visited the Permanent Mission of Lebanon in the United Nations and thanked the mission for the effort they exerted in helping the Lebanese official delegation to the General Assembly.

Meeting with Terje Roed Larsen - 23/9/2004

Fares who was heading the Lebanese delegation to the UN General Assembly, discussed Resolution 1559 with UN Mideast peace envoy Terje Roed Larsen who is responsible for preparing the report that will be presented to the UN Security Council. He said Lebanon respects international resolutions, stressing that the government will seek to persuade Security Council members and the UN so that the Secretary General Kofi Annan’s report will “be moderate and take into consideration Lebanon’s delicate situation”.

Interview on - 23/9/2004

Interview with Deputy PM Issam Fares on “Your World Today”

*The  Withdrawal of unspecified number of Syrian troops today and equipment out of Lebanon a symbolic gesture, what does it mean, why is it happening now?

- Good morning Jim, I addressed the general assembly yesterday and gave Lebanon’s official position and I said that, even after Security Council Resolution 1559, we do need Syria’s backing for maintaining stability and peace.
What drew my attention for instance today in PM Allawi’s speech: He said he wants to be realistic, that terrorism cannot be defeated ; fortunately we did defeat it ourselves and even in the past 2 days we have caught a group of Qaeda people in Lebanon and they were plotting to bomb the Italian embassy and many other places and to extend all their activities in the region. They confessed and they are high level people, and this all happened with the backing of the Syrian army and intelligence. Their presence in Lebanon is as a result of agreements, it’s not on their own, and we continuously discuss withdrawals, and a few days ago, there has been the 5th withdrawal.

* You know everyone is always looking, and of course prime minister Allawi will come in for some criticism I’m sure for the roll that he has played, how he was handpicked by the united states, so to speak, or at least by a group of people certainly favored by the US, at the same time people are worrying about Lebanon. Yes Syria has a positive security role to play in Lebanon, but the role that it plays in politics it’s not as positive. Trying to extend or extending rule of Emile Lahoud as president, extending that term limit, in other effects, in some ways this has not forced greater democracy, greater freedom inside Lebanon but rather greater favored the interest of Syria and Damascus itself.

- Well Jim, we are the oldest democracy in the Middle East, we have had our constitution since 1926 and we have had all our problems for the past 15 years. I mean 10 years ago, we got over it, and since we got over it we have built an army, and the commander in chief that built that army was General Emile Lahoud, he then maintained peace and security supporting the former president that came after Taëf and he was elected to the presidency. We really have used all our institutions, democratic institutions, from council of Ministers to Parliament, I happen to be also a member of parliament on top of my post in government. In parliament 96 votes were in favor of prolonging his term, 29 votes were against, and 3 were absent. In the council of ministers, in which we are about 30, we voted 25 to amend the constitution and extend the term of General Lahoud for a further 3 years and 3 only were against and 2 were absent. I mean in any democracy in the world all these votes happened depending on election and conviction and therefore, I don’t see what is wrong. And our parliament has been elected by our people.

* But let me ask you a regional question that goes to the heart of Mr. Allawi’s speech and he made another renewed appeal for help in his country. With its long and rich history of democracy, what is Lebanon willing to do directly to help the Iraqi people not just stand in the side line and criticize, the US going in there in the first place, you know but to help the Iraqi people today?

- We really have common goals, we want stability in the region, we are committed to stability in the region, Iraq has always been and I hope will always be our biggest commercial partner. As a matter of fact, right now, a lot of Lebanese business people are doing business in Iraq, taking the risks of this instability and terrorism, and we have had a lot of Lebanese injured. We have a common goal in seeing stability and democracy there, like in any other area in the region.

Meeting with Syrian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Faruk al-Shareh - 23/9/2004

The Deputy Prime Minister, Mr. Issam Fares held talks with the Syrian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Faruk al-Shareh.
The Discussions revolved around the UN Resolution 1559 and other topics brought up before the UN General Assembly.

Dinner held by the French Minister of Foreign Affairs, Michel Barnier - 23/9/2004

The Deputy Prime Minister, Mr. Issam Fares attended an official dinner held by the French Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Michel Barnier. The latter had invited the heads of francophone states participating in the General Assembly of the United Nations. The General Secretary of the United Nations as well as the General Secretary of the Arab League were also invited.

On this occasion, Mr. Fares discussed with the French Minister of Foreign Affairs the disagreement between Lebanon and France concerning the 1559 UN Resolution, and the intent of working towards resolving those disagreements.
Finally, Mr. Anan expressed his admiration of the active reconstruction of Lebanon following the end of the war, as well as the increased tourist flow towards this country.

Issam Fares in a Press Conference in New York
'There is a misunderstanding of the Lebanese stand'
 September 23,  2004

The Deputy Prime Minister, Mr. Issam Fares held a press conference in New York in which he asserted that “there is a misunderstanding of the Lebanese stand. We cannot venture with our security and stability that were lauded by the world at large. We do not wish to have foreign soldiers on our land, but we differ on the timing not the principle of the departure of these foreign armies”. He added “that we are willing to cooperate and we do not reject UN resolutions, but we do not want to endanger our country”.

When asked whether he is apprehensive of the report of Mr. Kofi Anan, Mr. Issam Fares answered that he will meet with the Secretary General of the United Nations, and his special envoy to the Middle East, Mr. Terry Rod Larsen to discuss the matter.
He added that “we have been accused of moving very fast to extend the term of the presidency of General Emile Lahoud, while in reality, the process was a very normal one.”

When asked whether the redeployment of the Syrian forces in Lebanon will be viewed positively by the Secretary General of the United Nations, Mr. Fares answered that the redeployment is a positive and important step, and that this step came as a result of the coordination between the Syrian and Lebanese governments, and that this is the fifth redeployment enacted by the Syrian army. He added that “neither the Lebanese nor the Syrians are eager to keep the Syrian army in Lebanon, but that Lebanon is wary of a security breach and instability as a consequence of the withdrawal at this sensitive time”. Mr. Fares gave as an example the discovery of a terrorist group that was about to blow up foreign embassies in Lebanon.

When asked what would Syria and Lebanon do to face the mounting pressure, he answered: “We respect UN resolutions, and we are going to try and convince the members of the Security Council of our view of the situation, so that the report of Mr. Kofi Anan will be moderate and considerate of the special situation of Lebanon. There is no disagreement between Lebanon and the UN concerning resolution 1559, except for the fifth clause related to the amendment of the Lebanese constitution that was done within the confines of the Lebanese parliament, the latter being recognized as a legitimate body both internally and externally.”

Mr. Fares reiterated his belief that there is a need for the establishment of a new government that would cater to a national entente, but that the timing at present is not convenient since the government will only last few months, till the new parliamentary elections take place in the spring of 2005.

The Deputy Prime Minister further asserted that Prime Minister Rafik Hariri should remain in power, hoping that cooperation will take place between him and the President of the Republic, for both of them strive to insure public interest. Furthermore, the role of Mr. Walid Jumblat, head of the Progressive Socialist Party, cannot be eschewed because of his importance in the Lebanese political system. But Mr. Fares remarked that although the voice of the political opposition is often heard, one should not disregard the other voices that represent, in reality, the majority.

As to the French position regarding the 1559 resolution, Mr. Fares noted that although the French insisted on the withdrawal of foreign armies from Lebanon, yet the French President of the Republic, Jacques Chirac, had announced while speaking to the Lebanese Parliament on his trip to Lebanon, that the presence of the Syrian army in Lebanon is tied with the completion of the peace process in the area. This is why it is up to the Lebanese government to endeavor to bring back the excellent relationships that always marked the interaction between France and Lebanon.

When asked by the Lebanese media on Mr. Fares’ encounter with the President of the United States during a reception held by Mr. Fares, the latter answered that although the meeting was very amicable, yet he did not discuss political issues, considering the social aspect of the occasion.

Meeting with the Kuwaiti Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sheikh Muhammad Sabbah Salem al-Sabbah - 23/9/2004

The Deputy Prime Minister, Mr. Issam Fares met with the Kuwaiti Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sheikh Muhammad Sabbah Salem al-Sabbah. Mr. Fares discussed with the Kuwaiti Minister the relations between the two countries, and the possible ways to strengthen those relations. The Kuwaiti Minister explained that his country backed the 1559 UN resolution, as it backed all other UN resolutions, but that it was satisfied with the explanations presented by the Deputy Prime Minister while addressing the General Assembly. The Kuwaiti Minister furthermore, said that Kuwait is in agreement with Lebanon that amending the constitution is an internal Lebanese matter that should not have been dealt with by the United Nations.
The Kuwaiti Minister said he will take up this matter while meeting with the US Secretary of State, Mr. Colin Powell in a private meeting.

Meeting with the Secretary General of the Arab League Amr Musa - 21/9/2004
The Lebanese Deputy Prime Minister, Mr. Issam Fares held a meeting with the Secretary General of the Arab League, Mr. Amr Musa in the United Nations building.

Meeting with the President of Brazil Louis Lola Da Silva - 21/9/2004
Mr. Fares held meeting with the President of Brazil, Mr. Louis Lola Da Silva who gave the opening address at the General Assembly. He discussed with the latter the relations between Brazil and Lebanon, as well as the American-Latino-Middle East conference that will be held in Brazil. The Brazilian President expressed his thanks to the President of the Lebanese Republic, General Emile Lahoud for his endeavors towards the success of such a conference.