Friday, February 13, 2009

U.S. Provides an Additional $12 million to the Lebanese Internal Security Forces

U.S. Provides an Additional $12 million to the Lebanese Internal Security Forces for Communications Upgrades and Nahr al-Barid Security
February 12, 2009 U.S. Ambassador Michele J. Sison signed an amendment to the 2007 letter of agreement with General Ashraf Rifi of the Lebanese Internal Security Forces (ISF).  The amendment provides an additional $12 million in U.S. bilateral assistance to the program with the Lebanese Government to enhance the capacity of the ISF.  With this addition, the U.S. Government is providing $80 million to the ISF over a four year period. 
This additional funding will enable the ISF to construct a community focused police station in the Nahr al-Barid area, to be trained in community policing to serve the Nahr al-Barid Palestinian Refugee camp; and, the funding will provide modern communication systems to the ISF and is the first phase of a planned nationwide system.
The law enforcement assistance program assists 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. 

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Feltman Says U.S. Support for Tribunal Is 'Non-Negotiable' and 'Irreversible'

Acting Principle Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, Jeffrey Feltman, reiterated U.S. backing for the international tribunal that will try the suspected killers of ex-Premier Rafik Hariri, saying that such support was "non-negotiable" and "irreversible."
Feltman said in remarks published Friday in An-Nahar daily that the current U.S. administration "does not know who was behind Hariri's assassination.

"But what we do know, and what we want to stress, is that we will help the tribunal with all means possible to uncover and punish the killers and those who back them. It is high time to make absolutely sure that crimes of political assassinations in Lebanon will not remain unpunished," he added. The remarks were translated to English by Naharnet.

Referring to ongoing mediation efforts to revive Israeli-Syrian peace talks, Feltman assured the Lebanese that President Barack Obama "plans to review the U.S. policy in the region" in an indirect implication to Syria and Iran.

"But this does not at all mean that any future decision by the new administration will compromise Lebanon or (Lebanon's) independence or sovereignty," said Feltman, who is also former U.S. ambassador to Lebanon.

Feltman said that the U.S. "goal has been and still is to help the Lebanese govern themselves and become accountable to the Lebanese people." He added that the United States wants the Lebanese government to "satisfy the needs of the Lebanese people, not (to satisfy) us or Syria or any other party."

Meanwhile, An-Nahar reported that officials from the U.S. State Department and other U.S. sources told the newspaper that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had decided to officially appoint Feltman her deputy assistant for Near Eastern affairs. However, Feltman refused to confirm or deny these reports.

Beirut, Updated 13 Feb 09, 14:29
Source: Naharnet

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Clinton Stresses Full Support for Lebanon, Pledges $6 Million for Tribunal

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told MP Saad Hariri that her country was committed to Lebanon's independence as the country prepares to commemorate the fourth anniversary of ex-Premier Rafik Hariri's assassination. Hariri's press office said Clinton stressed in a telephone conversation with the Mustaqbal movement leader her country's "full commitment to Lebanon's independence and sovereignty."

She told him that the U.S. would continue to back the Lebanese government and work on improving U.S.-Lebanese ties.

The top U.S. diplomat also stressed to Hariri her country's commitment to the international tribunal that would try his father's suspected assassins.

In a statement issued Thursday, Clinton also said the massive car bomb that killed Hariri and 22 other people on Feb. 14, 2005, was aimed at silencing Lebanese who were "calling out for independence and sovereignty."

"As evidence of our continued commitment to promoting justice in Lebanon, the United States pledges $6 million for the second year of the (international) tribunal's operations, subject to Congressional approval of the FY09 budget, in addition to the $14 million already contributed," she stressed.

She praised the Lebanese for spoiling the killers' plans and continuing their fight for a free Lebanon.

The Cedar Revolution that followed Hariri's killing "amplified the voices of those seeking justice and democracy, culminating in Syria's withdrawal from Lebanon. Undeterred by continuing political violence, these forces have bravely continued their fight for a free and independent Lebanese state," she said.

Syria has denied involvement in the Hariri killing but eventually withdrew its forces.

Clinton said the U.S. is confident that the international tribunal "will bring to justice those responsible for financing, planning, and carrying out the assassination."

She said the U.S. remains "committed to working together for a peaceful, prosperous and sovereign Lebanon."

On U.N. Security Council Resolutions on Lebanon, the Secretary of State said: "The United States also continues its unwavering support for full implementation of U.N. Security Council Resolutions 1701 and 1559, including their calls for all arms in Lebanon to be brought under state control and the delineation of Lebanon's borders."
She also pledged support for Lebanese authorities' efforts to ensure that the June 7 parliamentary elections "are free, fair, transparent, and unmarred by political violence."
Meanwhile, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit said that Clinton supported the building of "healthy U.S.-Syrian ties," An-Nahar daily reported.
Abul Gheit was speaking after talks with Clinton in Washington Thursday night.
Clinton told Abul Gheit that the U.S. administration still had "some requirements" with regards to normalizing ties with Syria. She added that the coming months will show to what level these ties, "which we support," have developed, Abul Gheit said quoting the U.S. official.
Clinton told her Egyptian counterpart that the resumption of "normal ties between Damascus and the West will have a positive impact on the situation in the Middle East."

Beirut, Updated 13 Feb 09, 10:19
Source: Naharnet

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Thursday, February 12, 2009



Saturday, February 07, 2009

U.S. Army Provides Military Law Training to the Lebanese Armed Forces

February 2, 2009
In January, members of the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) participated in the U.S. Army's Law of Military Operations course.  The subjects covered included the roles of military attorneys in war and peacetime, and issues related to human rights.
The course, funded by the U.S. Department of Defense, promotes skills sharing between the United States and Lebanon.  Training is carried out in accordance with LAF requests and focused on areas LAF leadership identifies as necessary. 
The overall goal of U.S. military assistance to Lebanon is to strengthen the LAF and increase its capacity to defend Lebanon's borders.  Since 2006, the United States has allocated over $410 million to the LAF.  The United States is committed to building the capabilities of the LAF and it will continue to support the government of Lebanon and the LAF as they continue their efforts to safeguard the peace, unity and sovereignty of Lebanon.

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