Saturday, May 21, 2005

US at WEF: Messages Sent and Received Different

Officially, the US State Department emphasizes this message from Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick:
U.S. Dedicated to Supporting Mideast Reforms, Zoellick Says
Deputy secretary says political, economic reforms should be mutually reinforcing

By David Shelby
Washington File Staff Writer

Dead Sea, Jordan -- Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick says the United States is committed to helping countries in the Middle East and North Africa implement political and economic reforms that are mutually reinforcing.

"The old days of a foreign policy characterized only by the meetings and machinations of 'diplomatic statecraft' are past," Zoellick told participants at the third World Economic Forum in Jordan May 20. "The transformational diplomacy of the United States will integrate the political and reform efforts of [the Middle East and North Africa] into the core of our foreign policy."
This, however, is the message reported from the same conference by The Daily Star (Lebanon):
U.S. warns Syria to pull agents out of Lebanon

The United States warned Syria to pull out all its intelligence agents from Lebanon.

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick said: "Pulling out military forces is not enough. You have to pull out all your intelligence agents."

Speaking at the World Economic Forum regional meeting in Jordan, Zoellick said Washington remains "deeply concerned about the level of interference by Syria on the part of security and intelligence services in Lebanon."

He added that Washington will increase its efforts to stop Syria and Iran funding Lebanese resistance group Hizbullah, adding that Iran was passing "millions of dollars per month" to the group.

The White House insists Hizbullah is a terrorist organization and along with Israel accuses the group of training Palestinian militants to carry out suicide attacks against Israelis.

Zoellick said: "If Syria wants good ties with the U.S., it can't be supporting Hizbullah."

Zoellick said he believed the outcome of Lebanon's upcoming elections, which are due to start at the end of the month, will apply pressure on Hizbullah to decide whether to "remain an armed militia or become a political party."

U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Scott Carpenter added: "American policy on Hizbullah is not going to change. They remain on our terrorist list. We will continue to confront it and its foreign backers."
Both messages are important, but the difference in emphasis is interesting. It's especially interesting that the The Daily Star doesn't hit on any of the points in the official State Department press release.