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Published:September 7th, 2006 17:37 EST
U.S. Calls Lifting of Lebanese Air Blockade

U.S. Calls Lifting of Lebanese Air Blockade

By SOP newswire

Washington -- The State Department said Israel’s lifting of its air blockade of Lebanon is “an important step" in implementing U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701, and applauded Germany’s work with the governments of Israel and Lebanon to end the blockade.

Spokesman Sean McCormack said September 7 that lifting the blockade facilitates the implementation of the August 14 resolution that ended the monthlong conflict between Israel and Hezbollah.

“The German government should be applauded for stepping up, sending the experts on the ground there that met the conditions of the Lebanese government, … and the German government was able to reassure the Israeli government that the letter and the spirit of [Resolution] 1701 would be upheld," McCormack said.

The United States also has been working very closely with Israel and Lebanon, as well as with European countries such as Italy and France to try to end Israel’s naval blockade, he said.

“We would hope that … in the coming days, that aspect of this blockade can be addressed. Then there are also questions about other ports of entry. We're working on that," the spokesman said.

McCormack also said the end of the air blockade reflects Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s continued efforts to follow through on implementing the U.N. resolution. It is “a good solid example" of Rice “following through on what she said she was going to do," he said, adding that the secretary’s log of phone calls over the past five days to Lebanese and Israeli leaders, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and the German government is lengthy.

“When we passed 1701, we said it was an important moment. It stopped the fighting. And we said that we believed that properly implemented, effectively implemented, this resolution would not return us to the status quo ante, that it would improve the situation. And Secretary Rice has followed through on that," he said.

McCormack said the implementation of Resolution 1701 is moving forward, albeit not “as quickly as everybody would have hoped."  He predicted that there likely will be “bumps in the road" and “misunderstandings" ahead that will “get addressed within the confines of 1701."

The end of Israel’s air blockade and anticipated lifting of its naval blockade will facilitate the delivery of international humanitarian and reconstruction aid to Lebanon.

According to a September 7 situation report issued by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the Bush administration has committed $55,350,153 in humanitarian assistance to Lebanon and has pledged an additional $174,649,847 in humanitarian and reconstruction assistance to Lebanon, for a total of $230 million.

Director of U.S. Foreign Assistance and USAID Administrator Randall Tobias identified six specific areas on which the United States initially is focusing its resources to support the Lebanese government’s recovery plan in his August 31 remarks at a donors’ conference in Sweden. (See related article.)

A situation report (PDF, 3 pages) on aid to Lebanon is available on the USAID Web site.

(The Washington File is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)