Thursday, July 22, 2004

Richard Armitage's interview caused much ado about nothing

The Daily Star - Opinion Articles - Richard Armitage's interview caused much ado about nothing: "The Daily Star - Opinion Articles - Richard Armitage's interview caused much ado about nothing: "Richard Armitage's interview caused much ado about nothing

By Michael Young
Daily Star staff
Thursday, July 22, 2004
There was a ruckus these past few days as analysts pored over the interview conducted by Kuwait's Al-Rai al-Aam newspaper with US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage. However, an original transcript of the interview suggests it was really a case of much ado about nothing.
In the interview, Armitage was asked what the US position was on a possible extension of Lebanese President Emile Lahoud's mandate. He responded: 'My own view is (that) constitutions matter. And when you have a constitution you should follow it and the constitution should be amended only carefully and after due deliberation and full participation by the citizens. But having said that, this is a matter for the people of Lebanon to decide, and their views and their feelings are the ones that matter and not Rich Armitage's.'
When asked whether the Lebanese could really make such a decision, Armitage responded: 'Of course not,' and added: 'Our view of this whole thing - the Syrian involvement in Lebanon - has been consistent for years. There were activities surrounding the Taif Accord, which spoke to this matter, and yet nothing has happened. And I think this is detrimental to the reputation of Syria and it certainly is harmful to the national prestige and sovereignty of Lebanon. So these are things we've spoken about for 15 years - longer now since the Taif Accord.'
It is easy to read much into what Armitage said, and very little. The tendency has been to combine his statements with that of US Congressman Ray LaHood, who said 10 days ago in Beirut: '(O)ur country, the US, thinks"

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