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Question for the Record Submitted to
Acting Assistant Secretary of State David Welch
House International Relations Committee

June 25, 1997

Answer Incorporates Information as of June 25, 1997
(Exception: Questions 25, 26, 28 incorporate

information as of August 1, 1997)

Lebanon

Question 2:

One of the reasons frequently cited to justify Syria's military presence is stability. Some observers fear that Lebanon would once again slip into a civil war if Syrian forces were withdrawn.

Does the United States believe that Syria is a stabilizing factor in Lebanon? Do you think Lebanon would slip into another civil war if Syria troops were withdrawn?

Do Syrian armed forces remain in Lebanon to counteract the presence of Israeli forces? Do they help maintain internal stability among the warring factions?

What percentage of the Lebanese people favor Syria's role in Lebanon? What percentage would want to see an ultimate union with Syria? Does the State Department have any statistics on that?

Answer:

The Lebanese government has told us it considers a

Syrian troop withdrawal from Lebanon to be premature.

It

considers the presence of Syrian forces necessary to its

internal stability and security.

The State Department has

no information regarding definitive Lebanese attitudes

towards Syria's role in Lebanon, however officials tell us

Question for the Record Submitted to
Acting Assistant Secretary of State David Welch
House International Relations Committee

June 25, 1997

Answer Incorporates Information as of June 25, 1997
(Exception: Questions 25, 26, 28 incorporate

information as of August 1, 1997)

Lebanon

Question 3 :

Earlier this year, the Lebanese Parliament passed a press law that banned broadcasts by all but five television outlets. The surviving stations reportedly are owned and controlled by prominent government officials.

Is there any evidence to support the opinion voiced by some critics of the government that the January 1997 press law stopped all radio and television stations from operating except for those owned by members of the government or their families?

Does the U.S. support freedom of speech in Lebanon? Has the State Department expressed its concern to Lebanese officials about the curtailment of the free flow of information? What has been the Lebanese government's response?

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shared these concerns directly with the GOL and noted them in our human rights report, and will continue to do so.

Question for the Record Submitted to
Acting Assistant Secretary of State David Welch
House International Relations Committee

June 25, 1997

Answer Incorporates Information as of June 25, 1997
(Exception: Questions 25, 26, 28 incorporate

information as of August 1, 1997)

Lebanon

Question 4:

Earlier this year, many Christians were arrested by the government and held for quite a number of days.

What were the events surrounding the arrest of these individuals? Who were they? Were they charged? Which officials arrested them, Syrian or Lebanese? What efforts did the United States undertake to bring about their release? What assurances, if any, has the U.S. received that such violations will not continue?

Answer:

The United States government expressed its extreme

concern about the mass arrests and detentions of

“opposition" Christians following reports of violence in

Tripoli and Beirut.

We urged the Lebanese government to pursue its

investigations in a manner consistent with the protections afforded its citizens under Lebanese law. We also requested

that those individuals not charged be released immediately.

Most detainees were released after brief periods, but some were held for ten days or more without charge.

We believe the incident was politically, not

Question for the Record Submitted to
Acting Assistant Secretary of State David Welch
House International Relations Committee

June 25, 1997

Answer Incorporates Information as of June 25, 1997
(Exception: Questions 25, 26, 28 incorporate

information as of August 1, 1997)

Lebanon

Question 5:

One of the underlying causes of Lebanon's civil war of the 1970s and 1980s was a rupture in the relations between Lebanese Christians and Muslims.

What is your assessment of inter-communal dialogue in Lebanon? Is there a greater or lesser degree of trust between Christians and Muslims today than ten years ago?

Answer:

The United States government supports Lebanon as it

continues to make progress towards national reconciliation.

The Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), the army, is perhaps the best example of progress towards this goal. At the end of the civil war in 1990, the LAF was a small, spent and divided force. Thanks to strong leadership and modest U.S.

assistance, the LAF is now a disciplined, multi-confessional

force numbering 60,000. The LAF has played a major role in creating a more secure Lebanon and is a respected government

institution in the country,

Question for the Record Submitted to
Acting Assistant Secretary of State David Welch
House International Relations Committee

June 25, 1997

Answer Incorporates Information as of June 25, 1997
(Exception: Questions 25, 26, 28 incorporate

information as of August 1, 1997)

Lebanon

Question 6:

Much of the political opposition to the current government in Lebanon comes from Lebanon's Maronite Christian community. Christians en masse, as well as other groups, boycotted the 1992 parliamentary elections, but appeared to have begun to slowly rejoin politics and voted slightly higher numbers in the 1996 Parliamentary elections.

Does the State Department believe that we are beginning to see the end of rigid Christian opposition to the government?

Why did many Maronites participate in the 1996 elections after boycotting the 1992 elections?

Answer:

We urged and welcomed Christian participation in the

1996 elections.

We continue to urge all Lebanese to

participate fully in the political system.

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