Saturday, April 22, 2017

SENATOR BENNETT WRAPS UP VISIT TO LEBANON

Sat 22 Apr 2017
NNA - Colorado's Democratic U.S. senator, Michael Bennett, concluded on Saturday his visit to Lebanon, by meeting with Prime Minster, Saad Hariri, and Army Commander, General Joseph Aoun, with discussions touching on bilateral relations between the two countries as well as the Lebanese-U.S. security cooperation. 
The delegation visited also the Bekaa valley and met with Lebanese Army officials. 
After the meeting, Senator Bennett reiterated that the U.S. would continue to stand by the Lebanese people and State institutions in order to promote a secure, sovereign and prosperous future for the country.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Remarks at a UN Security Council Open Debate on the Middle East

Ambassador Nikki Haley
U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York City
April 20, 2017

AS DELIVERED

Every month, this Security Council convenes a meeting on the Middle East. We have lots of meetings on specific countries and conflicts in this region. But this debate is our opportunity to talk about the Middle East as a whole. This is our opportunity to look at the threats that go beyond one country's borders – the threats that affect not just every country in the Middle East, but all too often, every single one of us.

Regrettably, these monthly meetings routinely turn into Israel-bashing sessions. That's the way this Security Council has operated for years. It's a formula that is absurdly biased against one country. It's a formula that is painfully narrow in its description of the conflicts in the region. And it's a formula that does nothing to help find solutions.

The truth is, these Security Council meetings don't do anyone in the region any favors, least of all the Israelis and the Palestinians. These meetings do nothing to bring the parties closer together. They actually work to push the two sides apart.

The United States firmly believes that peace is possible between Israel and the Palestinians, and we are actively working toward that goal. Peace will only come from direct negotiations, not from one-sided Security Council meetings and one-sided resolutions.

These biased discussions on the Middle East also impose a real cost. Threats are evolving, and do not fit neatly within borders. By limiting itself, the Council ignores the pressing threats that are right in front of us.

We should be asking these monthly Middle East sessions to talk about the factors that cause conflict across the region. I thank Nickolay for his remarks today and the fact that he went beyond the usual Israel-bashing and touched on the broader issues plaguing the region. I will do the same, and I encourage other countries to do the same as well. By breaking out of old, familiar, counterproductive patterns, we might actually achieve something valuable.

If we are speaking honestly about conflict in the Middle East, we need to start with the chief culprit: Iran and its partner militia, Hizballah. Iran and Hizballah conspire together to destabilize the Middle East, and their actions are expanding. For decades, they have committed terrorist acts across the region. Today, they prop up Bashar al-Assad's brutality, fighting alongside his forces, adding to the killing of thousands of civilians and the misery of millions of refugees. They train deadly militias in Iraq and arm Houthi militants in Yemen.

While this Council has paid too little attention to this growing menace, the United States will not. We are going to speak up about Iran and Hizballah, and we are going to act against their lawlessness.

In Lebanon, Hizballah, a terrorist organization, uses towns to shield its arsenals of tens of thousands of illegal rockets. In Syria, Hizballah controls territory on the ground. With Iran's instructions, its militias stand side by side with Syrian troops as they slaughter the Syrian people.

Sometimes, Hizballah is the one giving orders to Assad's fighters. Hizballah helped Assad starve and destroy Aleppo. According to press reports, when supporters of the Syrian regime die in battle, they sometimes come back with Hizballah flags on their coffins. As one activist said recently, "Hizballah designs it, and the Syrian regime wears it." They are reportedly even recruiting Syrian children to join pro-Hizballah youth groups, so they can indoctrinate a new generation, in a new country, with its toxic ideology.

Hizballah is a terrorist group spreading its influence across Middle East with the backing of a state sponsor. Iran is using Hizballah to advance its regional aspirations. They are working together to expand extremist ideologies in the Middle East. That is a threat that should be dominating our discussion at this Security Council.

The United States is not waiting to respond. We have imposed targeted sanctions on Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard and its Ministry of Intelligence for their support of the Assad regime. We recently designated for sanctions members of Iranian-backed terrorist organizations in Bahrain.

Iran remains a designated state sponsor of terror, and we continue to enforce all sanctions related to Iran's support for terrorism and destabilizing activities in the region. The United States will work even harder with our partners and allies to disrupt Iran's support for militant and terrorist groups.

All UN Member States must live up to their obligations. Iran's ballistic missile tests defy Security Council resolutions and further undermine the stability in the region. We call on all states to fully implement Resolution 2231, which bans the transfer of weapons to and from Iran, as well as the arms embargoes against the Houthis in Resolution 2216 and for Lebanon in Resolution 1701.

The United States will work closely with our partners to document and address any actions that violate these resolutions. We must take a stand against Iran and Hizballah's illegal and dangerous behavior.

How one chooses to spend one's time is an indication of one's priorities. The same is true for the United Nations Security Council. The Israel-Palestinian issue is an important one, deserving of attention. But that is one issue that surely has no lack of attention around here. The incredibly destructive nature of Iranian and Hizballah activities throughout the Middle East demands much more of our attention. It should become this Council's priority in the region.

I thank you.

###


U.S. Ambassador Breaks Ground on the New U.S. Embassy in Beirut

By U.S. Embassy Beirut | 20 April, 2017 
In a demonstration of our enduring friendship and important bilateral partnership, today, U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon Elizabeth Richard broke ground on the new U.S. Embassy compound in Beirut, Lebanon.

In her remarks at the ceremony, Ambassador Richard said: "Breaking ground today on our New Embassy Compound is a strong message to the Lebanese people that we are with you for the long term.  We intend to continue the spirit of cooperation and partnership that has defined our journey together for 200 years."

The multi-building compound will be located in the suburb of Awkar on a 43-acre site.   The compound will provide a safe, secure, sustainable, and modern platform that supports U.S. Embassy staff in representing the U.S. Government to Lebanon and in conducting day-to-day diplomacy.

Ambassador Richard told the guests at the ceremony, "That we are building a billion dollar facility on this site, overlooking your vibrant capital and the breathtaking Mediterranean, fills me with great optimism for the future.  I hope you share that optimism – it is what fuels the next generation to continue the work that was done before them to build a secure, stable, and prosperous Lebanon."

The facilities of the new U.S. Embassy in Beirut represent the best in American culture, engineering, technology, sustainability, art, culture, and construction execution.  Professionals from the United States, Lebanon, and other countries will be working side-by-side to complete this new diplomatic facility. Morphosis Architects of Culver City, California, is the architect for the project. B.L. Harbert International of Birmingham, Alabama is the construction contractor.

For further information, please contact Christine Foushee at FousheeCT@state.gov or (703) 875-4131, or visit www.state.gov/obo.



Wednesday, April 19, 2017

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Leads Congressional Delegation in Visit to Lebanon

By U.S. Embassy Beirut | 18 April, 2017
Representative Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ), Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee (HAC), led a Congressional delegation visit to Lebanon on April 13-15.  Representative Frelinghuysen was joined by fellow HAC member, Representative Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD).  During the visit, the delegation met with Prime Minister Saad Hariri, Minister of Defense Yaacoub Sarraf, Commander of the Lebanese Armed Forces General Joseph Awn, and several Members of Parliament.  They discussed the effectiveness of U.S. programs and policies regarding assistance provided to Lebanon and other countries in the region.  The delegation also visited the American University of Beirut where they witnessed the impact of U.S. support to AUB's world-class hospital and institutions of higher learning.  In their meetings, Representatives Frelinghuysen and Ruppersberger emphasized the United States intention to maintain a strong partnership with the people and institutions of Lebanon and the importance of Lebanon's security, stability, and prosperity.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Congressman Harold Rogers Visits Lebanon

By U.S. Embassy Beirut | 12 April, 2017 |

Representative Harold Rogers (R-KY) led a delegation of six Congressmen including Representatives David Price (D-NC), Ken Calvert (R-CA), Chuck Fleischmann (R-TN), David Joyce (R-OH), and Evan Jenkins (R-WV) to visit Lebanon on April 12.  The delegation met with Prime Minister Saad Hariri and Lebanese Armed Forces Commander Joseph Awn during their visit and discussed the close relationship and security cooperation between the United States and Lebanon.  The delegation's visit underscores the United States support for Lebanon, the Lebanese Armed Forces, and Lebanon's legitimate security institutions.


Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Ambassador Richard Presents New Security Equipment for Rafiq Hariri International Airport

By U.S. Embassy Beirut | 11 April, 2017 


The Department of State's Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) has provided $650,000 in security screening equipment for the Rafiq Hariri International Airport, U.S. Ambassador Elizabeth Richard announced at a handover ceremony on April 11.  The handover ceremony was attended by Minister of Interior Nuhad Al Mashnouq, Director General of the Internal Security Forces Major General Imad Osman, and the head of airport security General Doumit.

During her remarks, Ambassador Richard said, "I am pleased to announce today the donation of passenger and bag screening equipment for the airport, which will be used by Lebanese security officials to ensure that passengers, planes, and cargo coming into and out of Rafiq Hariri International Airport remain safe."  The provision of the equipment is part of the U.S. Government's long-standing partnership with the Government of Lebanon to improve security at the airport.

International aviation security is a priority for the U.S. Government, and the INL-funded equipment will enhance vehicle, passenger, and bag screening at the airport while underscoring our continued support for Lebanon's security and stability.  Since 2006, the U.S. Government has provided more than $178 million in training and equipment to the ISF to enforce the rule of law and protect the Lebanese people.

Following is the ambassador's remarks:

Good morning!  It is such a pleasure to be here, along with Minister Mashnouq, Major General Osman, General Doumit, and distinguished guests from the Lebanese security community as well as from the diplomatic community.

Aviation security is something that touches all of us.  Every time we or our loved ones get on an airplane, anywhere in the world, we are putting our safety and our lives in the hands of the security professionals who have screened us at the airport.  We need to trust that those security officials have the resources they need to do their jobs.  That means ensuring that airport security checks and equipment are constantly improved and upgraded, in order to counter increasingly sophisticated threats to aviation security around the world.

This is why the U.S. Government has made it a priority to support the Government of Lebanon in its efforts to upgrade security at Rafiq Hariri International Airport. Over the past year, we have been working very closely with the Government of Lebanon to identify the security equipment that is needed.

I am therefore very pleased to announce today the donation of passenger and bag screening equipment for the airport, at a value of well over a half million dollars. This equipment will be used by Lebanese security officials to ensure that passengers, planes and cargo coming in and out of Rafiq Hariri International Airport are safe.

The international community has a vital stake in protecting the safety of aviation worldwide.  The donation today will go a long way toward helping Lebanon do its part.  The U.S. Government is providing one mobile x-ray screener for vehicles; six hand-held Explosive Trace Detection (ETD) systems; six liquid aerosol and gel scanners; and six shoe scanners. These systems will be used by ISF officers screening passengers and baggage.

But, very importantly, our commitment to supporting aviation security in Lebanon does not stop there.  We have had a long-standing program, through our Diplomatic Security Anti-Terrorism Assistance program, to provide advanced training to Lebanese airport security officials to ensure that they are prepared to prevent threats to aviation security.

Today's equipment, funded by the Department of State's Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, and the training provided by the State Department Bureau of Diplomatic Security are just two examples of the enduring partnership between the United States and Lebanon.   That partnership has included more than $178 million dollars in assistance to the ISF alone since 2006.

Minister Mashnouq, friends, I really look forward to seeing this new equipment in use on my next trip through Rafiq Hariri International Airport.

A special word to the security personnel who are with us here today – thank you for your continued commitment to making our air travel safe, and thank you for your service to your country. It is very much appreciated.


Ambassador Richard Presents New Security Equipment for Rafiq Hariri International Airport

By U.S. Embassy Beirut | 11 April, 2017
The Department of State's Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) has provided $650,000 in security screening equipment for the Rafiq Hariri International Airport, U.S. Ambassador Elizabeth Richard announced at a handover ceremony on April 11.  The handover ceremony was attended by Minister of Interior Nuhad Al Mashnouq, Director General of the Internal Security Forces Major General Imad Osman, and the head of airport security General Doumit.

During her remarks, Ambassador Richard said, "I am pleased to announce today the donation of passenger and bag screening equipment for the airport, which will be used by Lebanese security officials to ensure that passengers, planes, and cargo coming into and out of Rafiq Hariri International Airport remain safe."  The provision of the equipment is part of the U.S. Government's long-standing partnership with the Government of Lebanon to improve security at the airport.

International aviation security is a priority for the U.S. Government, and the INL-funded equipment will enhance vehicle, passenger, and bag screening at the airport while underscoring our continued support for Lebanon's security and stability.  Since 2006, the U.S. Government has provided more than $178 million in training and equipment to the ISF to enforce the rule of law and protect the Lebanese people.

Following is the ambassador's remarks:

Good morning!  It is such a pleasure to be here, along with Minister Mashnouq, Major General Osman, General Doumit, and distinguished guests from the Lebanese security community as well as from the diplomatic community.

Aviation security is something that touches all of us.  Every time we or our loved ones get on an airplane, anywhere in the world, we are putting our safety and our lives in the hands of the security professionals who have screened us at the airport.  We need to trust that those security officials have the resources they need to do their jobs.  That means ensuring that airport security checks and equipment are constantly improved and upgraded, in order to counter increasingly sophisticated threats to aviation security around the world.

This is why the U.S. Government has made it a priority to support the Government of Lebanon in its efforts to upgrade security at Rafiq Hariri International Airport. Over the past year, we have been working very closely with the Government of Lebanon to identify the security equipment that is needed.

I am therefore very pleased to announce today the donation of passenger and bag screening equipment for the airport, at a value of well over a half million dollars. This equipment will be used by Lebanese security officials to ensure that passengers, planes and cargo coming in and out of Rafiq Hariri International Airport are safe.

The international community has a vital stake in protecting the safety of aviation worldwide.  The donation today will go a long way toward helping Lebanon do its part.  The U.S. Government is providing one mobile x-ray screener for vehicles; six hand-held Explosive Trace Detection (ETD) systems; six liquid aerosol and gel scanners; and six shoe scanners. These systems will be used by ISF officers screening passengers and baggage.

But, very importantly, our commitment to supporting aviation security in Lebanon does not stop there.  We have had a long-standing program, through our Diplomatic Security Anti-Terrorism Assistance program, to provide advanced training to Lebanese airport security officials to ensure that they are prepared to prevent threats to aviation security.

Today's equipment, funded by the Department of State's Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, and the training provided by the State Department Bureau of Diplomatic Security are just two examples of the enduring partnership between the United States and Lebanon.   That partnership has included more than $178 million dollars in assistance to the ISF alone since 2006.

Minister Mashnouq, friends, I really look forward to seeing this new equipment in use on my next trip through Rafiq Hariri International Airport.

A special word to the security personnel who are with us here today – thank you for your continued commitment to making our air travel safe, and thank you for your service to your country. It is very much appreciated.


U.S. Congressman Darrel Issa Leads Congressional Delegation in Visit to Lebanon

By U.S. Embassy Beirut | 11 April, 2017
U.S. Representative Darrell Issa (R-CA) led a Congressional delegation that concluded a one-day visit to Lebanon today.  The delegation included Representatives Juan Vargas (D-CA), Claudia Tenney (R-NY), and Barbara Comstock (R-VA).  The delegation's meetings with Prime Minister Saad Hariri and Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil focused on the long-standing close relationship and security cooperation between the United States and Lebanon.  The delegation also visited the Bekaa Valley, where they met with local officials and beneficiaries of U.S. assistance, and discussed the challenges facing Lebanese communities hosting Syrian refugees.  Mr. Issa reiterated the U.S. government's commitment to ensuring a secure, stable, and prosperous Lebanon and continuing a strong partnership with Lebanon's people and institutions.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Rubio Begins Middle East Visit

MAR 18 2017
Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), a member of the Senate's Select Committee on Intelligence, is in the Middle East this weekend on an official visit conducting oversight of U.S. programs abroad.

On his official Facebook page this morning, Rubio issued the following statement:

"This weekend, I am in the Middle East on an official visit conducting oversight of U.S. programs abroad as a member of the Senate's Select Committee on Intelligence. I just concluded my visit to Beirut, Lebanon, where I met with Prime Minister Saad Al-Hariri and government officials to discuss regional security.

"I stressed to our Lebanese partners the importance of cracking down on the terrorist group Hezbollah. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and I were sponsors of the Hezbollah International Financing Prevention Act, which was signed into law in 2015. This law blocks the terrorist organization's financing and limits its access to logistical support. Prime Minister Al-Hariri and I discussed ways to address Hezbollah's threat to regional stability, and the necessity of helping to build the capability of the Lebanese Armed Forces to confront terrorist threats.

"As always, I continue to be impressed by the work of Americans who serve abroad in our Beirut embassy and throughout the world as members of the Foreign Service. It is critical that we support their work in advancing our interests, as well as the goals of our international assistance programs.

"I was also honored to visit the Beirut Memorial, a tribute to the 241 U.S. service personnel, including 220 Marines, who lost their lives in the 1983 Beirut barracks bombing. While I was there, I remembered those who were killed during this terrorist attack orchestrated by Hezbollah and prayed for their families. They continue to be in our thoughts and prayers."

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Senator Richard Burr Visits Lebanon

March 18, 2017
Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) led a delegation of five senators including Senators John Cornyn (R-TX), Marco Rubio (R-FL), James Lankford (R-OK), and Tom Cotton (R-AR) on a visit to Lebanon from March 17 to March 18. The delegation met with Prime Minister Saad Hariri during their visit and discussed the close relationship and security cooperation between the United States and Lebanon. The delegation's visit underscores United States support for Lebanon, the Lebanese Armed Forces, and Lebanon's institutions.