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U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

Question & Answer Session in Beirut

Press Availability
William J. Burns
Deputy Secretary
Beirut, Lebanon
July 13, 2012


Q: Is the U.S. Administration looking into establishing a safe zone in north Lebanon following Senator McCain’s call last week?

Burns: My understanding is that Senator McCain was not talking about a safe zone or buffer zone in Lebanese territory. But as I said before, the United States remains deeply concerned about the situation in Syria. The most recent atrocities underscore the importance, the urgent need, for the United Nations Security Council to act, and to act in the way that Kofi Annan has requested, to demonstrate that there are consequences for the Syrian regime for continued noncompliance with its obligations.

Q: Tania Mehanna with the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation. Mr. Burns you were talking about the urgent need for the international community to act and last week Senator McCain was saying unless the United States moves more directly into helping the Syrian opposition the conflict is going to take much longer in Syria. Do you agree with this position and what is the United States Government going to do regarding the situation in Syria now?

Burns: As I said before, and as Secretary Clinton has emphasized in recent days, it’s extremely important for the United States along with the rest of the international community to demonstrate a sense of urgency about what’s going on in Syria, which is truly horrific. The reality is, as all of you know, that the longer the bloodshed continues in Syria the greater the danger not only for the people of Syria, but for the entire region – the greater the danger that the consequences of strife in Syria are going to spill over. So that’s why we believe it’s extremely important to move in the UN Security Council on a resolution, which as I said, carries consequences for continued noncompliance. It’s extremely important that the international community speak with one voice, because the Assad regime has an unbroken record of broken promises and broken commitments. It’s only through a unified commitment and actions which reflect that broad concern in the international community that we’re going to see any change in the situation.

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