Monday, July 27, 2009

Remarks by Deputy Permanent Representative, Ambassador Alejandro Wolff, on Lebanon, at the Security Council Stakeout, July 23, 2009

Ambassador: I just came from a briefing that Undersecretary-General Le Roy gave regarding the incidents in the period July 14 through 17 and 18 in southern Lebanon. They briefed on issues that were of grave concern. All members of the Council spoke—reflected that concern. And that is of the uncovering of a weapons cache in southern Lebanon in contravention to, and clear violation of, Resolution 1701. And all the indications that these are arms actively maintained by Hizballah; and ancillary, secondary incidents in which UNIFIL and the Lebanese Armed Forces efforts to investigate the situation and work in the region were impeded by Hizballah supporters and members of Hizballah.

So these were the main issues addressed this morning. We spoke about our views. We need to collectively reinforce and support UNIFIL's efforts to implement all of the provisions of 1701, the need for all parties—that's all states and all parties—in and around Lebanon to adhere to their obligations under the terms of the resolution. And in particular, that means no arms. And that means no violation of the arms embargo and that means no arms that are not part of the Lebanese Armed Forces or authorized by UNIFIL should be in that area. And that violation shows how perilous the situation remains and how important that UNIFIL be supported in its efforts to ensure that there are no arms entering southern Lebanon. And beyond that, the obligation that every state and every group has to ensure that there's a full and total arms embargo -- except for those arms legitimately destined for the Lebanese Armed Forces.

Reporter: Mr. Ambassador, what do you think of the letter from the Lebanese Mission that say this cache of weapons was an Israeli cache?

Ambassador: Well, I read the letter and I heard the briefing by the undersecretary-general. And I can tell you that it's clear there were weapons that date from some time back, according to the U.N.

But what's also clear is that this is an actively maintained cache. Now, I'm not sure that the letter suggests -- and I don't think the fact that Hizballah's trying removing evidence or Hizballah supporters are trying to impede a UNIFIL investigation suggests that this is an Israeli cache.

Reporter: (inaudible)

Ambassador: Well, we were briefed also on the breach of the blue line by Lebanese civilians. That also is a violation of the blue line, which deplore -- we deplore all violations of the blue line.

And the issue of Shebaa Farms was not addressed and you know our view on that. And that first instance requires demarcation of that territory between Lebanon and Syria.

Reporter: One, you said all indications are that this was active -- that this is an actively maintained cache. Is that your assessment or the Undersecretary-General's assessment?

Ambassador: That was the Undersecretary-General's.

Reporter: And second, can you comment on the issue of, you know, pelting by stones of UNIFIL observers. Does that—is that an attempt to actively hamper the investigation in your view or is it—what happened there?

Ambassador: Well, the net effect -- the briefing we received made one thing clear: The investigation was impeded. And what else can you expect when UNIFIL and LAF forces are being pelted by stones?

And the troubling element is that this seemed to be quite organized. This was not spontaneous. This was not simply, as some might suggest, homeowners worried about intrusions on their land or homes; that this was designed to impede the investigation and indications also of providing cover for efforts to remove evidence. So—also an element of concern.

But let me return to the key point here: The importance of strict adherence to the terms of 1701 across the board. And this weapons cache demonstrates that there's, you know, a major violation at the root of what 1701 was supposed to deal with and that is eliminating all arms, except for those that belong to Lebanese Armed Forces.

Reporter: (inaudible)—espionage ring—(inaudible).

Ambassador: We didn't discuss that today.

Reporter: Actually, my question was also about the espionage ring and spy networks which constitute a great violation of 1701 and also to the sovereignty of Lebanon.

How to go forward on that? Are we going to ignore them or is there any plans to deal with this violation that was took?

Ambassador: Well, again, I think there's primarily an investigation under way by the Lebanese government as to what happened. And I'm not going to comment any more other than -- you know -- so we'll leave it at that.

Reporter: Any plans to do anything about this at the Security Council?

Ambassador: Well, we have a -- you know, we have a renewal of the UNIFIL mandate coming up, so I'm sure it will be part of the backdrop to that renewal.

Thank you.

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Thursday, July 02, 2009

U.S. Official Visits Lebanon to Review Assistance Program for Internal Security Forces

July 2, 2009 U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement, David T. Johnson, visited Beirut July 1 and 2.   During his visit, Assistant Secretary Johnson reaffirmed the United States' support for Lebanon and reviewed the U.S. Government's successful, ongoing $80 million program of assistance to the Internal Security Forces (ISF).  The program helps the ISF enforce the rule of law and protect the Lebanese people within their sovereign state.
Accompanied by Ambassador Michel J. Sison, he held meetings with Prime Minister-Designate Saad Hariri, the caretaker Minister of Interior and Municipal Affairs, Ziad Baroud, , the Director General of the Internal Security Forces, Achraf Rifi, and his Command Staff, Ambassador Khalil Makkawi, Chair of the Lebanese Palestinian Dialogue Committee, and United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) representatives at the Nahr al-Barid Palestinian Refugee Camp.
The multi-year U.S. Government assistance program to the ISF is focused on training, equipment donations and infrastructure development.  American police advisors are working with their Lebanese colleagues and have trained over 2000 police recruits, instructors, and supervisors in modern police practices, administration, democratic policing, human rights, criminal investigations and other essential law enforcement skills.  Specialized courses concentrating on counter-narcotics, intellectual property rights and high risk traffic stops are part of the ongoing program.  U.S.-sponsored training also assists Lebanese police advisers in drafting curriculum and training police recruits, skills which are essential for the sustainability of the program.  
A new community policing program to enhance the capabilities of the IST to assume its security role in Nahr al-Barid will begin later this summer.
The U.S. Government has provided basic duty gear and civil disorder management equipment to the ISF, donated 480 new police vehicles and refurbished armored personnel carriers as well as renovated academy classrooms, offices and firing ranges for training use.
The U.S. Government has been assisting the ISF in its development since October 2006. The professional development of the ISF is critical to Lebanon's sovereignty and security. 
Embassy Of The United States. Beirut. Lebanon - Press Release

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Ambassador Sison’s Remarks Fourth of July Celebration

July 2, 2009 Thank you being here tonight to celebrate the 233rd birthday of our United States of America with us.
We are especially glad to be joined this evening by: His Excellency Fawzi Salloukh, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Emigrants, representative of the President of the Republic of Lebanon; His Excellency Member of Parliament Ali Bazzi, representative of the Speaker of the Parliament; His Excellency Nassib Lahoud, Minister of State, representative of the Prime Minister; and, His Excellency Member of Parliament Bassam Al-Shabb, representative of the Prime Minister-designate.
It is true that we are celebrating two days early, but for Americans, the 4th of July is a day to reconnect with friends and family, to remember our history, and to renew our commitment to democracy, tolerance, and justice.  As President Obama said in Cairo last month, these are not just American values, these are core principles we share with people everywhere.  Thus, it is fitting that we open our doors and share this day with our friends and neighbors around the world.  Our fates and our fortunes are intertwined as never before.  We all share responsibility for working together to ensure a more peaceful and prosperous future. 
We hope that today's celebration will become tomorrow's partnership.  There's nothing we can't accomplish, no challenge we can't meet, if we work together toward common goals and seek common ground.
Throughout America's history, our basic goals have been to keep the peace, foster progress in human achievement, and to enhance liberty and dignity among peoples and among nations.  Let me say that these principles also underpin the many years of close friendship between the United States and Lebanon.  America is proud to be a partner in supporting Lebanon's economic strength, in supporting Lebanon's education system and civil society.  We are also proud to support the key Lebanese institutions of the Army and the Internal Security Forces.  To our Lebanese guests tonight, let me emphasize that in America, you will continue to find a strong friend and partner, shared values, and an unwavering commitment to your freedom and democracy.
This independence day we here at U.S. Embassy Beirut and all Americans give thanks and praise for our nation's noble beginnings, for its unwavering founders, and for the bravery of all who have fought to sustain it.  I'd like to make a special note of our active duty U.S. military and U.S. veterans here tonight.  Thank you for your service.
We Americans are a proud people.  We are proud of our American cities that pulse with ideas and opportunities.  We are proud of our American small towns, where people build homes and dreams.  We are proud of our nation's beauty, from the Grand Canyon to the Blue Ridge Mountains, from Niagara Falls to Yosemite.  But, truly, in the end, our pride and our strength is in our American people.
July 4 is a time for reflection, to remember the challenges our forebearers faced and to recognize their courage and wisdom. 
President Obama, in his inauguration speech, reminded us that "we understand that greatness is never a given…it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things…who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom. 
For us, President Obama continued, "they packed up their few worldly possessions and travelled across oceans in search of a new life.  They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions, greater than all the differences or birth or wealth or faction."
Continuing to quote…our President, Barack Obama, told us on his Inauguration Day that "we Americans know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness.  We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this earth, and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of the tribe shall soon dissolve, that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself."
As in the United States, at the U.S. Embassy, our people, more than anything else, define who we are.  We at the Embassy are very proud of our heritage, too, parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents, who came from many places around the globe to build our new country.  Speaking for our U.S. Embassy community, our ancestors came from:   Bermuda, Canada, Cuba, Denmark, England, France,
Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iraq, Ireland, Korea, Lebanon, Lithuania, Macedonia, Mexico, The Netherlands, Nicaragua, The Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Scotland, Spain, Switzerland,
Wales, and West Africa… And we are also proud to boast among our ranks Native American heritage, as well.
We share this with you because we believe that this vibrant diversity makes us stronger, that this wealth of experience makes us more resilient.  I also want to share with you that, in collecting this information, I heard the most amazing stories about the family histories of my U.S. Embassy colleagues.  Within our own Embassy community, many of our family members came to the United States searching for a better life, seeking political or religious freedom or escaping economic hardship.  Some of our family members came as stowaways, or as indentured servants.   Some of us here at the Embassy have families who came to the United States two hundred years ago, but some are first generation, with parents born in foreign lands.
Despite this very varied family history, one thing that unifies us as Americans is that we truly love our national anthem, the Star Spangled Banner, which was so beautifully sung by our compatriot, Sabrine Staples.  In additionto the Star Spangled Banner, we Americans truly love our flag, the red, white, and blue.
I would like to thank the members of our Embassy Security Force, who served as our color guard for this evening.  They added much
to our event.
Friends, in closing, please enjoy the evening.
May the red, white, and blue banner of freedom continue to wave high above our beloved country, and above this Embassy here in Awkar.
May God bless our Flag;
May God bless our President;
May God bless America.
And most of all, long live U.S.-Lebanese friendship!
Embassy Of The United States. Beirut. Lebanon - Press Release

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Ambassador Michele J. Sison Welcomes Guests to the U.S. Embassy to Celebrate Independence Day

July 2, 2009 Ambassador Michele J. Sison warmly welcomed more than 1000 guests to the U.S. Embassy on July 2 to celebrate the 233nd anniversary of the United States' independence. The attendees represented a wide array of Lebanese society including national and local government officials, business executives, religious leaders, Lebanese Armed Forces and Internal Security Forces officers, media personalities, cultural figures and alumni of U.S. Government-sponsored programs. Among the invited guests were those who work with USAID, the Middle East Partnership Initiative and Public Diplomacy on projects such as small business development, leadership training, civil society promotion, transparency, and combating trafficking in persons. 
In her remarks, Ambassador Sison underscored that "America is proud to be a partner in supporting Lebanon's economic strength, in supporting Lebanon's education system and civil society.  We are proud to support the key Lebanese institutions of the Army and the Internal Security Forces... Our fates and our fortunes are intertwined like never before.  We all share responsibility for working together to ensure a more peaceful and prosperous future."
Embassy Of The United States. Beirut. Lebanon - Press Release

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Wednesday, July 01, 2009

U.S. Embassy: Upgrades at Bmariam Ammunition Depot completed

NNA - 1/7/2009 The Embassy of the United States of America issued today a media notice in which it announed that "In June, security upgrades at the Bmariam Central Ammunition Depot of the Lebanese Armed Forces were completed. The United States provided funding for the security upgrades to the depot to ensure that the site meets international standards for munitions storage."

The notice added "This project is a key element in the on-going U.S. assistance to Lebanon for de-mining and the safe storage and disposal of munitions. In 2008, the U.S. Government contributed $5 million to such activities."

The notice concluded "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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Security forces received "Dodge Charger" vehicles within the American grant

NNA - 1/07/2009 During a ceremony at the Barrack in Dbayeh, ISF received 120 Dodge Charger vehicles within the American grant.

Minister Ziad Baroud attended the ceremony, and stated that this is a new plan that does not rely on fixed checkpoints but traffickers will be taken by surprise.

US Ambassadress to Lebanon, Michele Sisson, also attended the ceremony, in which she stated that Lebanon counts on the cohesiveness of its national institutions to reach democracy.

Several eminent personalities were also present at the ceremony, including General Achraf Rifi who expressed his thanks to the USA for this grant.

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General David H. Petraeus, Commander of U.S. Central Command Visits Lebanon

General David H. Petraeus, Commander of U.S. Central Command, visited Lebanon on June 30, 2009.  Accompanied by U.S. Ambassador Michele J. Sison, General Petraeus held meetings with President Michel Suleiman, Prime Minister of the caretaker government Fouad Siniora, Minister of Defense Elias Murr, General Jean Kahwaji, the Commander of the Lebanese Armed Forces, and Prime Minister-Designate Saad Hariri.  Discussions focused on U.S.-Lebanese security cooperation.

The U.S. Government has provided over $410 million in equipment and training assistance to the Lebanese Armed Forces to help the LAF preserve security throughout all of Lebanon's territory.

Embassy Of The United States. Beirut. Lebanon - Press Release

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