BEIRUT: U.S. State Department Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf said Sunday night her country welcomed the Lebanese government’s transfer of its Special Tribunal for Lebanon’s budget share.
“The United States welcomes Lebanon’s decision to fulfill its 2013 funding obligations to the Special Tribunal for Lebanon,” Harf said in a statement.
“We recognize and commend [caretaker] Prime Minister Mikati’s strong leadership in ensuring that the government met this important commitment,” she added, reiterating Washington’s support for the work of the court and its efforts to find and hold accountable those responsible for “reprehensible and destabilizing acts of violence in Lebanon.”
The U.N.-backed court announced Monday it received Lebanon's share of the tribunal's annual budget that amounts to 29,386,609 Euros. Lebanon is obligated to pay 49 percent of the court’s budget for 2013.
The court is scheduled to start the trial of four Hezbollah suspects accused of complicity in the 2005 bombing that killed Hariri and 21 others on Jan. 16, 2014. The funding of the STL is a controversial issue since Hezbollah and its allies in Lebanon strongly oppose the STL.
Despite the presence of ministers allied with Hezbollah and the March 8 group in Mikati's Cabinet, the caretaker PM has succeeded throughout his term in funding the court.
Harf said the Dec. 27 assassination of former Minister Mohammad Shatah was a “stark reminder that for too long, Lebanon has suffered from a culture of impunity for those who use murder and terror to promote their political agenda against the interests of the Lebanese people.”
“The Tribunal, working with the Government of Lebanon, will help end this impunity by providing a transparent, fair process to determine responsibility for the terrorist attack that killed former Prime Minister Hariri and scores of others,” she said.
The U.S. official noted that Lebanon’s continued financial support and cooperation was critical for the court.
“We urge the international community to continue to support the Tribunal and the Government of Lebanon to achieve the shared goals of ensuring justice and ending impunity. We stand with the Lebanese people in these efforts and will continue to do so,” she said.