Saturday, May 01, 2010

Senior USAID Official Visits Lebanon, Discusses U.S. Aid with Ministers

From April 27-30, 2010 United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Senior Deputy Assistant Administrator for the Middle East Anne Aarnes visited Lebanon to highlight U.S. assistance projects throughout Lebanon. During her visit, Ms. Aarnes held informal discussions with the Minister of Education Hassan Mneimneh, Minister of Justice Ibrahim Najjar, Minister of Energy and Water Gebran Bassil, Minister of Interior and Municipalities Ziyad Baroud, and Minister of Environment Mohammad Rahhal about current U.S.-funded assistance programs in Lebanon and potential new programs in the coming year.

Ms. Aarnes discussed the ongoing U.S. support for economic development programs in Lebanon, which totaled over $67.5 million in 2009 and $109 million in 2010. In conversation with the ministers, Ms. Aarnes outlined just some of the major accomplishments and planned for new activities that USAID is supporting:

In support of the Ministry of Education’s five year strategy emphasizing the critical nature of basic education in Lebanon, USAID is planning a new robust Basic Education Development program. This new planned activity will build on the success of the ongoing $11.6-million Lebanon Education Assistance for Development (LEAD). LEAD focuses on renovating schools in need of repair, providing computer and science labs to public schools, and supporting the expansion of after-school activities by building the capacity of school staff and headmasters.
The $8.2-million Strengthening the Independence of the Judiciary and Citizens program which recently completed reconstruction of the Beirut Enforcement Court, is in the process of renovating the Judicial Training Institute in Ashrafieh. Technical assistance through this program supports the Ministry of Justice develop a long term judicial sector strategy.
Two new water projects totaling $27.5 million will provide technical and infrastructure assistance to the Ministry of Energy and Water, the Water Establishments and the Litani River Authority. These programs will ensure more efficient use of water resources in Lebanon. An ongoing $18-million water treatment program is developing small wastewater treatment systems to protect the upper Litani River Basin and the health of local communities.
Technical support is being provided to the Ministry of Interior and Municipalities as the Ministry ensures citizen access to voting and registration, citizen awareness of processes and election guidelines.
The $4.4-million Lebanon Business Linkages Initiative program builds the capacity of small and medium size enterprises to be part of the economic value chain with the purpose of increasing their sales and export revenues.
Ms. Aarnes explained why the United States’ support through USAID is such a vital part of the U.S.-Lebanese relationship: "USAID works alongside the Government of Lebanon to improve the lives of the Lebanese people through development projects that foster stability and democracy. Our programs focus on strengthening governing institutions and civil society organizations to be more responsive to Lebanese citizens; job creation and income generation; improving student achievement; and improved water management and environmental protection. USAID helps to build a better future for Lebanese citizens through cross-cutting programs focusing on youth, reconciliation throughout Lebanese society, and opportunities for women through targeted microfinance and education programs."

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Assistant to the President John Brennan Visits Lebanon Consults with Leaders

On April 26-27, 2010 Assistant to the President and Counterterrorism and Homeland Security Adviser John Brennan visited Lebanon as part of a visit to several countries in the region. In Lebanon, Mr. Brennan met with Lebanese government representatives, including President Michel Sleiman, Prime Minister Saad Hariri, Foreign Minister Ali El-Chami, Minister of Defense Elias El-Murr and Minister of Interior Ziad Baroud and discussed the United States' continuing support for Lebanon as the Lebanese government seeks to strengthen state institutions, build peace and stability within Lebanon, and contribute to peace and stability throughout the region. Mr. Brennan also met with Commander Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) General Jean Kahwagi and Director General of the Internal Security Forces (ISF) General Achraf Rifi. Mr. Brennan expressed that the United States is fully committed to strengthening its partnership with the Government of Lebanon and its security forces.

Mr. Brennan reiterated that the United States hopes and expects that the Government of Lebanon will exercise its legitimate authority over all of Lebanon and that the only legitimate weapons in the country are those held by the Lebanese state or authorized by UNIFIL. Calling it a threat to the stability and security of Lebanon and the region, Mr. Brennan expressed concern about recent reports about the smuggling of weapons to Hizballah through Syria. He also repeated America’s commitment to the enforcement of pertinent U.N. Security Council resolutions, including UNSCRs 1559 and 1701, to end weapons smuggling and disarm all militias. Mr. Brennan also conveyed the continuing support of the United States and the international community to the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, calling its work essential to end the impunity for political assassinations in Lebanon. The United States is confident that the Special Tribunal for Lebanon will bring to justice those responsible for financing, planning, and carrying out the assassination of former Prime Minister Hariri.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

STATEMENT BY DEPUTY SPOKESMAN GORDON DUGUID

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE, Office of the Spokesman, April 19, 2010.
The most senior Syrian diplomat present in Washington today, Deputy Chief of Mission Zouheir Jabbour, was summoned to the Department of State to review Syria’s provocative behavior concerning the potential transfer of arms to Hizballah. This was the fourth occasion on which these concerns have been raised to the Syrian Embassy in recent months, intended to further amplify our messages communicated to the Syrian government. Our dialogue with Syria on this issue has been frank and sustained. We expect the same in return.

The United States condemns in the strongest terms the transfer of any arms, and especially ballistic missile systems such as the SCUD, from Syria to Hizballah. The transfer of these arms can only have a destabilizing effect on the region, and would pose an immediate threat to both the security of Israel and the sovereignty of Lebanon. The risk of miscalculation that could result from this type of escalation should make Syria reverse the ill-conceived policy it has pursued in providing arms to Hizballah. Additionally, the heightened tension and increased potential for conflict this policy produces is an impediment to on-going efforts to achieve a comprehensive peace in the Middle East. All states have an obligation under UN Security Council Resolution 1701 to prevent the importation of any weapons into Lebanon except as authorized by the Lebanese Government.
We call for an immediate cessation of any arms transfers to Hizballah and other terrorist organizations in the region. Syria’s designation as a state sponsor of terrorism is directly related to its support for terrorist groups, such as Hizbollah.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

ISF Opens Refurbished Police Academy and Congratulates the Latest Group of U.S.-Trained Internal Security Forces Cadets

April 8, 2010 U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission Thomas F. Daughton congratulated a group of over 320 Internal Security Forces (ISF) police cadets and officers who graduated from the 14th and 15th U.S.-funded Basic Course Police Training program. The cadets were presented with their completion of training certificates and encouraged to use their newly acquired knowledge in service to the public.

Earlier, ISF and U.S. officials conducted a ribbon cutting ceremony for the newly completed $7 million, initial renovation of the Warwar Academy. The renovations provide classroom space for 100 additional students, a modernized kitchen and dining facility to serve hundreds of meals each day, and improved dormitory space to accommodate over 380 resident students during their training.

The graduating cadets were trained in a ten-week, state-of-the-art program, taught by U.S. instructors and curriculum developers with the assistance of Lebanese police and legal professionals. The training focused on the latest policing and law enforcement skills and the application of these skills to specific situations. The curriculum includes modern police practices, understanding democratic policing and human rights, criminal investigation procedures and other essential law enforcement skills.

Thanking the ISF, Mr. Daughton commended the Director of the ISF Academy, Brigadier General Abdelbadih Al Soussi, the ISF instructors, the U.S. trainers and the new graduates. Daughton highlighted that all Lebanese would benefit from the training in traffic management and improved security throughout the country.

The U.S. Government has been assisting the ISF in its development since 2007 through several programs. This training program is part of the ongoing $104 million commitment to law enforcement assistance programs, which assist the ISF to enforce the rule of law and protect the Lebanese people within their sovereign state. The professional development of the ISF is critical for Lebanon’s sovereignty and security. The U.S. Government is committed to supporting Lebanon, the ISF and the Lebanese people.

EMBASSY OF UNITED STATES BEIRUT . LEBANON

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

U.S. Delivers Medical Expertise and Equipment to Lebanese Armed Forces

In early April 2010, the U.S. government reached out to the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) through a joint US Army – LAF medical team visit. The Central Command (CENTCOM) Command Surgeon team made up of US military medical experts visited their counterparts at the LAF, and toured several LAF medical facilities throughout the country. The US medical officers were impressed by the dedication and professionalism of their LAF counterparts who are dedicated to providing the best possible care to the Lebanese soldiers and their beneficiaries. Both the American and Lebanese teams of doctors shared experiences and are looking forward to conducting future bilateral training opportunities.
Also on April 2, the United States delivered to the LAF the first in a series of shipments of weapons and ammunition. This shipment included 1000 M16A4 rifles, 10 missile launchers, 1583 grenade launchers, and 538 sets of day/night binoculars and night-vision devices. This equipment will be supported with training provided by the United States government.
The United States is committed to providing assistance to the LAF to help them increase their capacity. This assistance includes training and equipment to meet the LAF’s long-term needs which the Lebanese government has identified in its five-year plan for the LAF in order to protect Lebanese citizens, counter terrorism, and to fulfill its duties throughout the country.

Embassy of the United States Beirut.Lebanon Press Releases

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Statement of Senator John Kerry After Meeting with President Michel Sleiman at Baabda Palace

March 31, 2010
Thank you. I apologize that I will not have time for questions because we are under a schedule and a deadline with our airplane.
Let me just say very quickly, it is a great pleasure to be back here in Lebanon. I had a wonderful meeting with President Sleiman and listened carefully to his judgments about our relationship, the importance of our relationship, but also the challenges with respect to the Israel-Palestinian peace issue and Syria. Let me assure you on behalf of the United States and the Congress that we are deeply committed to the sovereignty, independence, and democratic government of Lebanon. We respect the challenges that you have been fighting through. I think there is a moment, hopefully, here where we can make progress on the relationship with Syria as well the relationship with Israel-Palestine, which would be enormously helpful to regional stability. We thank you for the courage of the people of Lebanon. We are cooperating on a number of different projects now. We have about $1 billion of American assistance since 2006 that is coming to Lebanon. I can promise you that anything we do with respect to the peace process in this region will not come at the expense of Lebanon. So thank you for a generous welcome today and I apologize that I don’t have more time. Thank you very much.

EMBASSY OF UNITED STATES BEIRUT . LEBANON.

Statement of Senator John Kerry After Meeting with Prime Minister Saad Hariri at the Grand Serail in Beirut

Thank you. Well, good afternoon everybody. Thank you. Let me just say, I apologize because our schedule is so tight that I am not going to be able to take questions.
Let me just say what a great pleasure it is to be back here in Lebanon again and to have had the opportunity to meet with and talk at some length with Prime Minister Hariri. We are very, very grateful for the leadership that the Prime Minister has offered, not just here in Lebanon, but also to the peace and stability in the region. I will be travelling to Damascus. I will meet with President Assad with respect to the issues of the region. But let me emphasize to our friends in Lebanon that nothing that the United States does in this region will come at the expense of a free and independent and democratic Lebanon. We are encouraged by the steps that Lebanon has taken in the last years, coming out of great political difficulties. There has been enormous progress, both economically and otherwise. But as we all know, there are tensions in the region. There are issues that we need to deal with.
We look forward to continuing to work with your government, the government of Lebanon, in order to work on the number of partnerships that we share. Together, the United States and Lebanon have worked on education issues, on issues of peace and stability, law-enforcement, and so forth. So it is a great, great pleasure to be here again and to see the progress that is being made, even amidst the difficulties that we all know exist in the region. Again I emphasize the American people are deeply committed. There are strong ties with many of our communities in the United States with Lebanon. We anticipate continuing the financial support. I think there has been about $1 billion since 2006 that we have been very proud to contribute to the efforts of stability in this part of the world. So, we thank you for your contributions, we thank you for your patience. We remain extremely hopeful that in the weeks ahead we can find the path to progress on the single most important regional stability issue, which is the peace process between Israel and Palestinians. That is a top subject for my conversations with President Assad and it remains, obviously, a major priority of President Obama. Thank you for a beautiful day here in Beirut and I look forward to coming back many times. Thank you. Thank you very much.

EMBASSY OF UNITED STATES BEIRUT . LEBANON

Monday, March 22, 2010

Lebanese President and U.S. Ambassador Meet at Baabda

22/03/10 14:14 NNA - President Michel Sleiman and U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon Michele Sison met today at Baabda Palace. Ambassador Sison conveyed to President Sleiman the United States' continuing support for a strong and independent Lebanon, as well as support for the efforts of President Sleiman and the Lebanese government to build peace and stability within Lebanon and contribute to peace and stability throughout the region. She commended President Sleiman for his leadership and commitment to the people of Lebanon.
Ambassador Sison noted the U.S. commitment to the ongoing diverse and successful partnerships between the United States and Lebanon in the areas of economic growth and military and law enforcement assistance, totaling over $1 billion since 2006. As President Obama told President Sleiman last December, part of peace is economic opportunity and justice in civil society; U.S. assistance thus provides support to education and other programs that promote opportunity in Lebanon.
Ambassador Sison applauded President Sleiman for his leadership on a number of key issues, including the pursuit of a just, lasting and comprehensive Middle East peace. She reiterated the United States' position that it will not allow its efforts to achieve its goals in the Middle East or to engage Syria come at the expense of its deep commitment to Lebanon and to the Lebanese people, nor will it support the forced naturalization of Palestinians in Lebanon. Ambassador Sison expressed the United States' continued hope that the Government of Lebanon will continue to exercise its legitimate authority over all of Lebanon as well as America's commitment to the full implementation of all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions.