Good morning. This week, the international community continued to build a political and security framework to confront the crisis in the Middle East, a crisis that began with Hizballah's unprovoked terrorist attacks on Israel. Secretary of State Rice traveled to Lebanon, Israel, and Europe, and met with key leaders to discuss a way forward. In Rome, she met with representatives of more than a dozen nations and international organizations. Our Governments agreed to provide relief to the people of Lebanon, using corridors for humanitarian aid that Israel is opening. We pledged to support Lebanon's revival and reconstruction. And we agreed to continue to work for a sustainable cease-fire that will stop the current violence, end the suffering of people in Lebanon and Israel, and move us toward a lasting peace.
Yesterday I met with Prime Minister Tony Blair to discuss our strategy to achieve these shared goals. We agreed that Lebanon's democratic Government must be empowered to exercise full authority over its territory. Militias in Lebanon must be disarmed; the flow of illegal arms must be halted; and the Lebanese security services should deploy throughout the country. We also agreed that a robust multinational force must be dispatched to Lebanon quickly. An effective multinational force will help speed delivery of humanitarian relief, facilitate the return of displaced persons, and support the Lebanese Government as it asserts full sovereignty over its territory and guards its borders. In addition, Iran must end its financial support and supply of weapons to terrorist groups such as Hizballah, and Syria must end its support for terrorism and respect Lebanon's sovereignty.
Secretary Rice will return to the region this weekend, and she will work with the leaders of Israel and Lebanon to seize this opportunity to achieve lasting peace and stability for both countries. Next week, the United Nations Security Council will also meet. We will work with our allies to adopt a resolution that establishes a framework to end the violence quickly and mandates the multinational force. This approach will demonstrate the international community's determination to support the Government of Lebanon and defeat the threat from Hizballah and its foreign sponsors. And this approach will make possible what so many around the world want to see: the end of Hizballah's attacks on Israel; the return of Israeli soldiers taken hostage by terrorists; the suspension of Israel's operations in Lebanon; and the withdrawal of Israeli forces.
As we work to resolve this current crisis, we must recognize that Lebanon is the latest flashpoint in a broader struggle between freedom and terror that is unfolding across the region. For decades, American policy sought to achieve peace in the Middle East by promoting stability in the Middle East, yet these policies gave us neither. The lack of freedom in that region created conditions where anger and resentment grew, radicalism thrived, and terrorists found willing recruits. We saw the consequences on September the 11th, 2001, when terrorists brought death and destruction to our country, killing nearly 3,000 innocent Americans.
The experience of September the 11th made it clear that we could no longer tolerate the status quo in the Middle East. We saw that when an entire region simmers in violence, that violence will eventually reach our shores and spread across the entire world. The only way to secure our Nation is to chan ...
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