Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Statement by Chairman Berman on the Anniversary of the Assassination of Prime Minister Rafik Hariri

Van Nuys, CA – Chairman Howard L. Berman (D-CA) of the House Foreign Affairs Committee today issued the following statement to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri on February 14, 2005:

“Even as this horrible crime shook Lebanon and the world, it launched one of the most powerful popular uprisings in recent history: the Cedar Revolution movement, which freed Lebanon from Syrian occupation and led the Lebanese people to the path of sovereignty and freedom.

“As we mark this somber anniversary, Lebanon continues to face the threat of militia violence from Hezbollah as well as foreign interference from Syria and Iran. I believe the U.S. Congress, as well as the Administration, will remain firmly committed to the full implementation of UN Security Council Resolutions 1559 and 1701, including disarming all militias on Lebanese soil, extending the Lebanese State’s authority over its own territory, and stopping the flow of weapons from Syria and Iran into Lebanon. At the same time, it is important that we reaffirm our support for the Special Tribunal on Lebanon so that the assassins of PM Hariri and other Lebanese leaders can be brought to justice.”

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Press Statement by Under Secretary of State William Burns Following a meeting with Prime Minister Saad Hariri

February 16, 2010
Good evening. I’m very pleased to be back in Lebanon. I was last here exactly five years ago today, when I represented the United States at the funeral of the late Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. I was proud to support Lebanon and its sovereignty and independence at that tragic moment, and I’m proud today to convey President Obama’s strong and continuing support for Lebanon as the Lebanese government seeks to strengthen state institutions and build peace and stability within Lebanon, and contribute to peace and stability throughout the region.
As President Obama emphasized to President Sleiman during his visit to Washington last December, and as he emphasized to Prime Minister Hariri in his telephone call last week, Lebanon can count on continued American assistance. American aid has totaled over one billion dollars since 2006, with significant support for the Lebanese Armed Forces. We hope and expect that the Government of Lebanon will exercise its legitimate authority over all of Lebanon. We remain committed to the full implementation of all of the relevant United Nations Security Council Resolutions, including Resolutions 1559, 1680, and 1701.
As Senator Mitchell has repeatedly stressed, we remain committed to the pursuit of a just, lasting and comprehensive peace between Arabs and Israelis, with progress on all tracks of the peace process. Our efforts on the Palestinian-Israeli track will not come at Lebanon’s expense. As Senator Mitchell has stated, the United States will not support the forced naturalization of Palestinians in Lebanon. Nor will our continuing efforts to engage Syria and explore improved relations come at the expense of our deep commitment to Lebanon and to the Lebanese people. All of these efforts are complementary and mutually reinforcing, not contradictory. I’m grateful to Prime Minister Hariri, to President Sleiman, and the other senior Lebanese leaders with whom I have met today for their hospitality and for an excellent set of discussions, and I look forward to visiting again soon and to continuing to do all that I can to support Lebanese-American partnership.
Thank you very much.
End text.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Second U.S.-Lebanon Joint Military Commission

On February 12, 2010, Minister of National Defense Elias Murr and U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs Alexander Vershbow concluded the second U.S.-Lebanon Joint Military Commission (JMC) in Washington, DC, underscoring the long-term, bilateral military partnership between the United States and Lebanon. The JMC provides a forum for the United States and Lebanon to commit to military cooperation goals for the coming years and to review commitments made in the past year.

Participants in this year's JMC discussed current and future military assistance to Lebanon, including an anticipated $200M in Foreign Military Financing for the Lebanese Armed Forces over the next two years. Our cooperation efforts for 2010 will have a special focus on the needs of Lebanon’s special operations division. The United States is providing over $11M in training and $56M in sophisticated and specialized equipment for these specialized divisions, including bunker-busting weapons, anti-tank missiles, tactical unmanned aerial vehicles, sniper rifles, night vision devices, and other equipment. The United States will continue to ensure the Lebanese Armed Forces and their special operations units have the necessary training and equipment to execute their expanding missions. The United States anticipates that this cooperation will increase in the years to come, and as the vanguard of the Lebanese Armed Forces, the special operations forces will have the necessary training and equipment to execute their expanding missions.

The Lebanese Armed Forces have won several important victories over extremists over the past few years. Their heroic actions have won the admiration of many in the United States. The United States looks forward to working with Lebanon to achieve a shared vision for transforming the Lebanese Armed Forces into a lighter, more agile modern institution respected within and outside of Lebanon and capable of securing the entire national territory.

Minister Murr’s visit to Washington also provided an opportunity for U.S. officials to discuss implementation of all relevant UN Security Council Resolutions and to reaffirm the U.S. commitment to Comprehensive Middle East Peace.

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

Friday, February 12, 2010

Read-out by The Press Secretary on The President's Call with Prime Minister Hariri of Lebanon

President Obama spoke with Prime Minister Hariri on the morning of February 12, 2010. The President expressed his strong support, and that of the American people, for the Prime Minister and the Lebanese people as they mark the upcoming anniversary of the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri. The President said the American people admire and appreciate the Prime Minister’s commitment to carrying on his father’s work. The President and Prime Minister agreed on the importance of supporting the work of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon to bring those responsible for this terrible crime to justice.

The President emphasized the United States’ continued support for Lebanon’s sovereignty and independence and said he looks forward to working with Prime Minister Hariri to advance peace and opportunity in the region. President Obama and Prime Minister Hariri also discussed bilateral issues on which the United States and Lebanon are cooperating, including U.S. support for the Lebanese Armed Forces. The President said the United States remains committed to the full implementation of UN Security Council Resolutions 1559, 1680, and 1701, and affirmed that the United States looks forward to working with Lebanon as a partner on the United Nations Security Council for the next two years. The President said he looks forward to meeting with Prime Minister Hariri.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Lebanese Ministry of Interior and U.S. Government Sign Memorandum of Understanding on Technical Support for Municipal Elections

On February 5, 2010, U.S. Ambassador Michele J. Sison witnessed the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Lebanese Ministry of Interior and Municipalities to provide technical support for the upcoming municipal elections in Lebanon. With funding made available through USAID, the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) will work with the Ministry of Interior and Municipalities to support activities for the upcoming electoral cycle. IFES will work with the Ministry to provide technical support to train elections workers and assist the Ministry in developing a public media outreach program on the election process. IFES will also provide technical support for the Ministry's Observer Coordination Unit, which supports domestic monitoring of the elections by Lebanese civil society organizations.
Speaking at the signing event, Ambassador Sison expressed her admiration for the work the Ministry of Interior has done in organizing supporting free, fair, and transparent elections in Lebanon. Ambassador Sison said "IFES's technical support and training for the Ministry's employees – as well as the development of training materials for elections workers – will help ensure the continued transparency of Lebanon's elections systems. The right to cast a ballot and equal access by citizens to cast their vote are basic tenets of democracy. The United States stands ready to provide technical assistance to the government of Lebanon and the Ministry as it prepares for the upcoming municipal elections."