Transcript of interview with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri

By Janine Zacharia
Thursday, November 25, 2010; 6:56 PM

Q&A with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri

Edited transcript of interview by Washington Post's Janine Zacharia with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri at his home office in Beirut, Saturday, Nov. 13, 2010.

WP: What's your general sense of the situation here at the moment?

Hariri: It's a totally new country, and even just four years ago after the 2006 war (with Israel), between direct and indirect loss we had and the lives that we lost, the country picked up again.

The main problem that we have in Lebanon, and in the region, is we don't have a real peace process and I think this is the main focal problem that we have in the region. A lot of people talk about arms and smuggling and Hezbollah and all of this. But if we have a comprehensive peace, would we be talking about this? Would we be talking about all of the problems that today we have? If we had resolved the issue in 1991 in Madrid when we went there when we didn't have all these problems today, if we had achieved peace in the '90s would we be today here?

In the '90s there wasn't al-Qaeda, there wasn't Hamas, there wasn't all these extremist groups. But today look where we are today 19 years later. My question is if we don't move on the peace process, on a comprehensive peace in the Middle East based on the Madrid conference, based on the (2002) Arab initiative, where will be 10 years down the line? Is anybody comprehending how extremism is growing in this region?

WP: Is the West not understanding this?

Hariri: I think the international community needs to have a wake up call and they should wake up. It's high time that this process…and everybody knows what they need to do.

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