Thursday, May 27, 2010

Remarks by Ambassador Brooke D. Anderson at a Security Council Debate on Intercultural Dialogue for Peace and Security

Brooke Anderson
U.S. Alternate Representative for Special Political Affairs
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, NY
May 26, 2010

Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you, Mr. Secretary General for your important remarks. Mr. President, let me begin by thanking you for your recent visit to Washington, DC. Your visit highlighted the enduring strength of the bilateral relationship between the United States and Lebanon, as well as the many common goals we share, including reaching a comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace. The United States continues to strongly support Lebanon’s independence and sovereignty and the full implementation of Resolutions 1559, 1680, and 1701.

There have been two rounds of proximity talks between Israelis and Palestinians already. We believe that through good-faith negotiations the parties can agree to an outcome which ends the conflict and reconciles the Palestinian goal of an independent and viable state based on the 1967 lines, with agreed swaps, and Israel’s goal of a Jewish state with secure and recognized borders that reflect subsequent developments and meet Israel’s security requirements.

The United States recognizes that Jerusalem is a deeply, profoundly, important issue for Israelis and Palestinians, for Jews, Muslims, and Christians. And we believe that through good-faith negotiations the parties can agree on an outcome that realizes the aspirations of both parties for Jerusalem and safeguards its status for people around the world.

We call again on our international partners—both inside and outside this Council—to promote an atmosphere of cooperation between the parties. We renew our call for Arab states to advance the promise of the Arab Peace Initiative and take steps that show Israelis, Palestinians, and their own citizens that peace is possible and will bring tangible benefits.

Mr. President, let me thank you for convening the Council today to discuss the importance of promoting dialogue across cultures. As the world is woven closer together by technology and trade, new ways of thinking are replacing old lines of division. The United States supports frank and open dialogue in the spirit of mutual interest and mutual respect, rooted in the belief that the cultures and faiths of the world need not be in conflict. Indeed, despite the great diversity of the human family, cultures the world over share common principles of justice, progress, tolerance, and belief in the dignity of all human beings.

Exchanges such as this one help leaders share perspectives and views directly. But we should also not neglect the importance of direct person-to-person dialogue and cooperation. Cross-cultural exchange is a task for citizens, not just officials. International exchange and training programs have long been important components of U.S. foreign policy and outreach, but their role is now being expanded. These programs serve as concrete vehicles for cooperation that can have a lasting impact. The United States currently funds exchanges for more than 2.4 million people a year, and while each program is unique, they all advance our goal of promoting understanding among peoples. Millions of Americans—through schools and universities, religious institutions, youth groups, and other organizations—help build the close ties with peoples all around the world through their own informal exchanges.

Diversity and intercultural dialogue are very much a part of America’s history and identity. What President Obama calls “our patchwork heritage” is an abiding source of national strength. The United States has, in many ways, been a long experiment in bridging cultural divides. The United States is a diverse and pluralistic society, one that people of all religious and cultural backgrounds call home. It is very much the American way to celebrate the different ways in which we have been created.

Mr. President, the United States recently decided to join the Group of Friends of the Alliance of Civilizations. Over the last five years, the Alliance has grown into an important global network of partners that fosters dialogue and encourages grassroots projects in the areas of youth, education, media, and the successful integration of migrants. We support the Alliance’s mission and we believe that by joining, we can further the innovative, inclusive approach of this promising cultural initiative.

With his historic address in Cairo last year, President Obama called for a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world. As he said, “In order to move forward, we must say openly the things we hold in our hearts, and that too often are said only behind closed doors. There must be a sustained effort to listen to each other; to learn from each other; to respect one another; and to seek common ground.”

Not all differences can be easily bridged; not all disputes will vanish simply from dialogue. But the United States firmly believes that the interests we share as human beings are far more powerful than the forces that would drive us apart. Frank, respectful, and open dialogue strengthens those who would resolve disputes through negotiation and nonviolence and weakens those who would replace argument and civility with rage, terrorism, violence, aggression, and hatred. Those who seek a partner for respectful dialogue and those who work for just and lasting peace will always have a friend in the United States.

Of course, recognizing our common humanity is only the beginning of our task. Our words must be matched with action—because more and more, the challenges of our interwoven age are common to all of us, from climate change to nuclear proliferation to pandemic disease. We need global solutions to global challenges, and we need the respectful dialogue that helps us find peaceful solutions to even the most intractable problems.

Thank you very much, Mr. President.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Readout of President Obama's Meeting with Prime Minister of Lebanon Saad Hariri

The White House, Office of the Press Secretary, For Immediate Release May 24, 2010:
The President met today with Prime Minister Saad Hariri of Lebanon. The President commended the Prime Minister for his leadership and for carrying on his father’s legacy, and congratulated him on Lebanon’s term as President of the U.N. Security Council, where Lebanon is contributing to upholding international peace and security. The President and Prime Minister reaffirmed their commitment to strengthening Lebanon’s sovereignty and independence and to continuing a wide-ranging and long-term partnership between the United States and Lebanon. They reviewed progress on bilateral and regional issues, such as our work toward a comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace and implementation of UN Security Council Resolutions 1701, 1680, and 1559. The President stressed the importance of efforts to ensure Iran complies with its international nonproliferation obligations, and the threat posed by the transfer of weapons into Lebanon in violation of UNSCR 1701.

During their meeting, the President expressed his determination to continue U.S. efforts to support and strengthen Lebanese institutions such as the Lebanese Armed Forces and the Internal Security Forces, and to contribute to the economic growth and development of Lebanon. The President reiterated to the Prime Minister that U.S. regional engagement will never come at Lebanon’s expense, and he reaffirmed the United States’ continued strong support for the Special Tribunal for Lebanon

Readout of the Vice President's Call with Lebanese Prime Minister Sa'ad Hariri

The White House Office of the Vice President For Immediate Release May 24, 2010:
The Vice President spoke with Lebanese Prime Minister Sa’ad Hariri today to reiterate the strong U.S. commitment to strengthening Lebanon’s sovereignty and independence. The Vice President pledged continued U.S. assistance to build the institutions of the Lebanese state, including the Lebanese Armed Forces and Internal Security Forces. The Vice President and Prime Minister Hariri also agreed on the importance of achieving comprehensive Middle East peace.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Lebanese Cadet Accepted into U.S. Air Force Academy, Two Cadets to Attend U.S. Naval Academy for First Time in History

On May 18, 2010, U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon Michele J. Sison congratulated LAF Commander General Jean Kahwaji at his office in Yarze on the acceptance of three LAF cadets into the U.S. Air Force Academy (USAFA) and the U.S. Naval Academy (USNA). Lebanon was invited by the U.S. Secretary of Defense to nominate Lebanese military cadets to apply for admission into the U.S. military service academies. In a first for Lebanon, Lebanese cadet Oliver Sfeir from Zouk Mikhael was accepted into the USAFA and will join his fellow cadets this fall at the Academy’s campus in Colorado. In another first for Lebanon, two Lebanese cadets were accepted to the USNA, a program that usually only accepts one cadet per country. John Karam and Bahaa Joudieh will enroll in at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland later this year.

The three cadets were offered admission into the academies based on their academic record, physical training, English language skill, and a personal interview. Ambassador Sison congratulated the LAF on this historic accomplishment for Lebanon: "Our United States military academies have a long tradition of excellence, helping train not only future American military leaders, but the future leaders of our friends and allies. These three young men will learn things you won't find in any classroom. They will learn how to push themselves to the limits. They will develop strength and character as a human being. We are proud of their accomplishments thus far, and know that we expect continued excellence as they represent the best of Lebanon while studying in the United States."

Internal Security Forces Graduate Second Class from Community Policing Training Program

On May 20, 2010, the second class of 49 Internal Security Forces (ISF) cadets and officers graduating from the newly developed Community Policing training class. As part of its $104-million law enforcement assistance program administered by the Department of State's International Narcotics and Law Enforcement bureau, the United States government in partnership with the ISF, the United States has pledged to train 300 ISF officers from the Tripoli area in community policing techniques.

The Community Policing course is an eight-week, state-of-the-art training program taught by U.S. and Lebanese police instructors with the assistance of legal professionals. ISF officers learn the latest policing, law enforcement and community relations skills -- and how to implement them effectively in on-the-job situations.

The community policing model promotes the development of partnerships between law enforcement agencies and the individuals and organizations they serve, in order to develop solutions to problems and increase trust in the police. Community policing puts emphasis on tackling the underlying causes of crime by addressing problems at the local level. These techniques have successfully reduced crime and increased trust and confidence in the police in numerous communities in the United States and Europe.

The United States law enforcement assistance program in Lebanon is designed to support Lebanese law enforcement sector reform by strengthening the capacity of the Internal Security Forces to enforce the rule of law in Lebanon and to protect the Lebanese people.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

US Embassy: U.S. delivers 20 new Harley Davidson Motorcycles to the ISF

18/05/10 NNA - In a press release by the US Embassy in Beirut, it indioctaed that "On May 18, 2010, in the presence members of the Internal Security Forces (ISF) Command Staff, U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon Michele J. Sison presented 20 Harley Davidson motorcycles to ISF Director General Ashraf Rifi at the ISF Mobile Forces headquarters in Dbayeh. The motorcycles are state-of-the-art police vehicles, identical to ones used by American law enforcement agencies, which will enable the ISF to perform its law enforcement, safety and traffic management functions. They are outfitted with specialized police equipment including enhanced steering and braking capabilities and lights and sirens with mounted microphones and speakers. The ISF will deploy the motorcycles throughout Lebanon to assist ISF personnel in fulfilling their professional responsibilities of protecting Lebanese citizens and residents."
The release added "The delivery of these 20 motorcycles complements the fleet of police vehicles and other equipment donated to the ISF by the United States, including 480 Dodge Chargers and 60 SUVs. In addition to the 20 new motorcycles, the United States also provided spare parts and technical assistance to refurbish an additional 24 Harley Davidson motorcycles already in the ISF fleet. The value of the project, including the new vehicles, parts and refurbishment, totals $498,000."
The release went on to say "The release Speaking at the hand-over ceremony, Ambassador Sison characterized the donation as filling a specific need for the ISF: " Today, we add another iconic American vehicle to the ISF arsenal….The capability that these Harley Davidson motorcycles will provide the ISF is something that the ISF officers who enforce the law in Lebanon have been asking for … These impressive and easily recognizable motorcycles will certainly assist the ISF in projecting its presence in the eyes of the Lebanese citizens, and if I might add - doing so with great style."
The release concluded "Since 2007, through agreement between the Lebanese government and the U.S. State Department Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement (INL), the U.S. Government has committed over $104 million for training and equipment to the ISF to strengthen and build its professional capacity. The programs assist the ISF to enforce the rule of law and protect the Lebanese people. The professional development of the ISF is vital to ensure Lebanon's sovereignty, security, independence and prosperity."

Army Commander meets with a US military delegation

18/05/10 NNA - Army Commander, General Jean Qahwaji, met Tuesday at his Yarzeh office with US Ambassador to Lebanon, Michelle Sisson, on top of a US military delegation. Talks touched on means of cooperation between the Lebanese and US Armies in the fields of training and equipment.

Statement by the Press Secretary on the Visit of Lebanese Prime Minister Hariri to the White House

“The President will welcome Prime Minister Saad Hariri of Lebanon to the White House on May 24. The Prime Minister’s visit is a symbol of the close and historic relationship between Lebanon and the United States. This will be the Prime Minister’s first official visit to Washington during his premiership and the President looks forward to consulting with Prime Minister Hariri on a broad range of mutual goals in support of Lebanon’s sovereignty and independence, and regional peace and security. We are pleased to receive the Prime Minister during Lebanon’s presidency of the UN Security Council.”

40 ISF Officers Complete Counternarcotics Training with U.S. Experts

On April 26-29, 2010, forty Internal Security Force (ISF) officers received training on advanced counternarcotics enforcement, conducted by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in Beirut. Trainers from the DEA's International Training Section in Quantico, Virginia, working with their counterparts in the ISF and the Department of State's International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs Office, conducted the four-day course, which was a continuation of training that began in December 2008.
This course demonstrates the continued support for the Lebanese security forces by the United States to strengthen the capabilities and professionalism of the ISF as a vital institution of the Lebanese state. Since its inception in 2008, the U.S.-funded training program with the ISF has trained over 3900 ISF officers.

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."