Friday, March 23, 2012

Treasury Under Secretary David Cohen Visits Lebanon

March 20, 2012
U.S. Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David Cohen visited Lebanon today and met with Prime Minister Najib Mikati, Bank of Lebanon Governor Riad Salameh, and a number of representatives from the Lebanese banking community.  This is Under Secretary Cohen's first visit to Lebanon.
In his meetings, Under Secretary Cohen discussed the steps Lebanon should take to ensure a transparent and well-regulated financial sector for Lebanon's continued prosperity.  He also stressed the need for authorities to protect the Lebanese financial sector from potential attempts to evade U.S. and international financial sanctions.  He reiterated the U.S. view that it is important to ensure that the current instability in Syria does not undermine the Lebanese financial sector. 
He renewed the commitment of the United States to a stable, sovereign and independent Lebanon.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Remarks at the 7th Anniversary of the Cedar Revolution

Jeffrey D. Feltman
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs
Cannon House Office Building
Washington, DC
March 19, 2012
(As Prepared Remarks)
I want to thank all the Lebanese-American groups for organizing this event, and I appreciate seeing so many distinguished colleagues, guests, and friends – especially our elected representatives. It is a special honor to appear here today with Maura Connelly, our distinguished ambassador to the Republic of Lebanon.
A number of speakers tonight have referred to the ongoing upheavals in the Arab World. These have been different in different countries. Revolution in some; reform in others. Suppression as well as achievement. What has become known as the Arab Spring or the Arab Awakening has looked very different from Tunisia to Egypt, to Libya, to Syria, and the Gulf.
Yet two elements are constant: One is a yearning: yearning for dignity, for opportunity, and for respect between governors and the governed. The second element common to the popular movements across the region has been a triumph over fear. Too often, the authority of the state attempted to strangle dissenting voices; to imprison and intimidate, to torture and even kill political opponents. As dignity was confiscated from the public and concentrated in the hands of the few, it was fear that kept the people at bay. But in 2011, Arabs across the region vanquished their fear. And it was the Lebanese people who had first shown the way.
As most of you know, I served as United States Ambassador to Lebanon from summer 2004 to early 2008. I remember with vivid clarity the day former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri was assassinated. It was a day of great tragedy and shock, yet very quickly the Lebanese people told the world they had had enough. They would be intimidated no longer. Fear could not stop them.
The Lebanese people in 2005 took their place among great and historic movements of the past by showing the world their resolve in the face of tyranny. Much like the South Africans who stood proudly against Apartheid in 1993, and the Central Europeans whose courage helped reshape the European continent in 1989 – Lebanese demonstrated that the power of people seeking dignity could not be denied. It was that bedrock principle – that the Lebanese should be in charge of Lebanon's future – that caused hundreds of thousands of people from all confessions and all walks of life to go into the streets on March 14, 2005. With voices raised the Lebanese people demanded an end to political assassinations, an end to outside military occupation and an end to the full-scale theft perpetrated by the Asad regime and its local partners in crime against the people of Lebanon.
Lebanese pushed fear aside to realize the simple principle that citizens must have a say in how they are governed. The right to chart a brighter future, for themselves, their communities, and their children. That right belonged to them. Who could have imagined that six years later Arabs across the region would attempt to realize for themselves those same universal values that brought the Lebanese people to the streets in March of 2005?
Today, it is the Syrian people who reject the Asad regime's campaigns of arrest and torture. Today, it is the Syrians who engage in a struggle the Lebanese know all too well, to rid themselves of Asad-Makhlouf kleptocracy. For all of us who care deeply about Lebanon, we have a moral as well as political obligation to stand firmly on the side of those Syrians trying to wrest their country out of the hands of a murderous mafia. No one outside of Syria understands the brutality of Bashar al-Asad better than the Lebanese. No one outside of Syria has more of a stake in the outcome than the Lebanese.
As all of us gathered here know, the Cedar Revolution's dream of a Lebanon free of Asad's manipulation and a Lebanon free of Iranian interference remains incomplete. The inevitable fall of Bashar provides new opportunity for Lebanon. In 2013 Lebanon will hold its next parliamentary election. I hope those Lebanese who are here with us today, along with millions of others back home in Lebanon, will again show the world how they can transcend fear – in order to use those 2013 legislative elections to defeat the remnants of the Syrian occupation and reject the apologists of Asad's butchery. Let the Lebanese people join together to tell Hizballah and its allies that the Lebanese state will no longer be hijacked for an Iranian-Asad agenda.
The history of the Lebanese people is one of struggle and triumph over adversity. On this day, as we pause to celebrate the Cedar Revolution – one that foretold and inspired the revolutions of the present – we remember those whose lives were lost or who were grievously wounded in the struggle and celebrate the union of Lebanon's diverse people. Tonight is an occasion to acknowledge all that Lebanon has accomplished and look forward to an even brighter future.

Special Coordinator Frederic Hof Visits Lebanon

March 19, 2012
Special Coordinator for Regional Affairs Frederic Hof completed his visit to Lebanon today, during which he met with President of the Chamber of Deputies Speaker Nabih Berri, Prime Minister Najib Mikati, and other senior government officials to continue discussions on Lebanon's maritime boundaries.
Mr. Hof encouraged Lebanon to continue its engagement to resolve its maritime boundaries. He supported the development of offshore oil and gas reserves in a manner that contributes to peace, stability, and prosperity.
Mr. Hof renewed the United States' commitment to a stable, sovereign, and independent Lebanon.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Senior U.S. Military Official Visits Lebanon

March 16, 2012 - Deputy Director of Political-Military Affairs for the Middle East at the Joint Chiefs of Staff Brigadier General Guy T. Cosentino visited Lebanon today and met with Lebanese Armed Forces Commander General Jean Kahwagi and other senior military officials.  This is Brigadier General Cosentino's first visit to Lebanon after having succeeded Brigadier General John W. Charlton who visited Lebanon in September 2011. In his meetings, Brigadier General Cosentino emphasized the strong and sustained military cooperation between the two countries as well as U.S. support for Lebanon's initiatives to implement its obligations under United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1559 and 1701. 
Brigadier General Cosentino renewed the United States' commitment to a stable, sovereign, and independent Lebanon.  He underscored the U.S. Military's support in strengthening the capacity of the Lebanese Armed Forces, recognizing its importance in serving as Lebanon's sole legitimate defense force to secure Lebanon's borders and defend the sovereignty and independence of the state. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Anniversary of Lebanon's Cedar Revolution

Press Statement
Victoria Nuland
Department Spokesperson, Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
March 14, 2012

Today marks the seventh anniversary of Lebanon's Cedar Revolution, when the Lebanese people took to the streets en masse in a peaceful demonstration to demand a sovereign and democratic country, free from foreign interference, and to call for the truth behind the assassination of Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. In 2005, long before the inspiring and dramatic events of the past year, the people of Lebanon shattered the myth that the only way to produce change in the region is through violence and conflict. The United States salutes the brave and proud Lebanese who peacefully took to the streets in 2005 to demand a better future for themselves and their homeland.

Without a doubt, challenges remain for the people of Lebanon. Foreign-backed groups seek to turn back the clock. The brutal violence unleashed by the Assad regime against its own people risks destabilizing the region, including Lebanon. We support Lebanon's political leaders' efforts to maintain security and to prepare for the day when a democratic government in Damascus will usher in a new era in Lebanese-Syrian relations. We will continue to stand with and support the people of Lebanon and all those across the region as they work for democratic governments that will fulfill their aspirations and respect their rights.

Monday, March 05, 2012

SOCCENT Commander Visits Lebanon

March 5, 2012 Special Operations Central Command (SOCCENT) Commander Major General Kenneth Tovo visited Lebanon today and met with Lebanese Armed Forces Commander General Jean Kahwaji and other senior officials. 
They discussed areas of continued military cooperation between the two countries, including SOCCENT's help in training and equipping the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) special forces.  Major General Tovo also underscored SOCCENT's support for Lebanon's initiatives to implement its obligations under United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

U.S. Ambassador Meets with MP Sleiman Franjieh

March 1, 2012
U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon Maura Connelly met with Al-Marada leader MP Sleiman Franjieh today at his residence in Bneshey. The Ambassador and MP Franjieh discussed the political and security situation in Lebanon and the current situation in Syria.
Ambassador Connelly expressed the United States' deep concern that the Syrian regime continues its violent oppression of the Syrian people, including the ongoing assault on Homs. She called for the immediate cessation of attacks against civilians and safe conduct of humanitarian assistance to the beleaguered Syrian people. She underscored U.S. concerns that developments in Syria not contribute to instability in Lebanon.
Ambassador Connelly also raised concerns regarding Defense Minister Fayez Ghosn's recent trip to Iran and his statements from Tehran that suggest the Minister's discussions could potentially lead to violations by Lebanon of United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1747 and 1929. She further reiterated the United States view that Lebanon must respect all of its international obligations.
She renewed the commitment of the United States to a stable, sovereign and independent Lebanon