By Donna Miles
Nov. 21, 2006 – Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld expressed condolences here over today's assassination of Lebanese Cabinet Minister Pierre Gamayel in Beirut. Rumsfeld paused to speak to reporters outside the Pentagon as he stepped outside the building's River Entrance to greet Afghan Defense Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak.
Rumsfeld expressed regret over the death of Gemayel, a strong critic of Syria, who news reports said was shot and killed today in Beirut. He did not respond to questions about possible Syrian involvement in the assassination.
Gemayel's passing is "certainly tragic for Lebanon and those in Lebanon and that part of the world who believe in peace," the secretary said.
He reflected on the long string of losses the Gemayel family has experienced. "That family has suffered a great deal," he said.
Rumsfeld noted that Gemayel's uncle, Bashir Gemayel, was assassinated in September 1982, shortly after being elected Lebanon's president. Pierre Gemayel's father, Amin Gemayel, then served as president of Lebanon from 1982 and 1988. Rumsfeld served as President Reagan's special presidential envoy to the Middle East during that period, from 1983 to 1984.
Earlier this morning, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations John Bolton shared Rumsfeld's sentiment, calling Gemayel's assassination "a very great tragedy."
Bolton said his death "makes clear that we have to support the democratic forces in Lebanon against this politically motivated assassination." He emphasized the need to establish an international tribunal for Lebanon as quickly as possible and to ensure it has "the flexibility to try the perpetrators of the other political assassinations in Lebanon."
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