Thursday, September 26, 2013

Remarks by U.S. Ambassador David Hale Following his Meeting with Prime Minister-Designate Tammam Salam

September 26, 2013
Media Notice
For Immediate Release
Good afternoon. I just completed a round of consultations today with the President of the Council of Deputies, with Caretaker President of the Council of Ministers, and just now with Prime Minister-designate Salam. The purpose of these consultations was to discuss how to follow up on the very good meetings that were held in New York: the meeting between our Presidents, President Obama and President Sleiman on Tuesday, and last night's meeting of the International Support Group that brought together leaders from around the world to demonstrate the political support that we all feel in the international community for Lebanon and specifically, support for the Lebanese Armed Forces for the efforts of the Lebanese to manage the effects of the consequences of the flow of refugees from Syria into this country and for Lebanon's economic development.
Words of support alone, of course, we know, are never enough, and so that is why we are discussing today how to follow up on these important meetings. It is also why in the last 48 hours between President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry, the United States, in fact, has announced over $112 million in assistance for Lebanon, and I think as you know that's $8.7 million for the Lebanese Armed Forces for their security work, but beyond that an additional $74 million to help address the humanitarian crisis related to the Syrian refugees, and just last night another $30 million for immediate direct assistance to help the local communities that are dealing with the impact of the refugee crisis.
So, I think it is very important to bear in mind, that as I said, over just the last 48 hours, the United States has announced an additional $112 million of support for Lebanon. That is a tangible commitment, and I think you can count on our continued support so long as Lebanon continues to address these crises in a responsible and practical way that we've seen it do so today. Thank you very much.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Remarks at the Meeting of the International Support Group for Lebanon

John Kerry
Secretary of State
United Nations
New York City
September 25, 2013

Thank you, Mr. Deputy Secretary General. And I want to thank Secretary General Ban for presiding over this, though he had to leave, and thank those who have helped to organize it. And I want to join in recognizing our dear friend President Sleiman, who deserves our praise and our support for being a tenacious advocate for Lebanon's interests and stability under very difficult circumstances.
Everybody here knows that Lebanon has rarely faced such a daunting moment. And as we know, President Sleiman has worked tirelessly to disassociate Lebanon from the war in Syria, an effort that I think everyone here both understands and supports. But nevertheless, despite those efforts, we are deeply concerned by the rising number of terrorist attacks and security incidents inside Lebanon and with Hezbollah's brazen intervention into the Syrian conflict, which contradicts its commitment to the Baabda Declaration. Regrettably, Hezbollah is obviously putting its own interests, its own ideology, its own external purposes above those of the well-being of the Lebanese people, in conjunction with external backers.
I want to commend the Lebanese Armed Forces for their extraordinary work to try to help keep the peace on behalf of all of Lebanon's people. The United States has supported those efforts with $82 million in assistance this year, providing training and equipment to promote Lebanon's unity and sovereignty. And just yesterday, as he met with President Sleiman, President Obama announced additional support for border security.
I join with others here to commend Lebanon for its remarkable efforts, which we've heard about, to provide for more than 800,000 refugees – a burden hard to describe to any country when you consider that this is a nation of just over 4 million people. Yesterday, President Obama added $74 million in humanitarian assistance to the 180 million that we have provided this year for host communities and refugees.
And as we heard from President Jim Kim, the World Bank has just completed its need assessment and identified the massive economic social impact on Lebanon's communities as they support those who are fleeing violence. So I want to make it clear: The United States will continue to stand with President Sleiman and the Lebanese people as they struggle to meet these urgent needs. And today, I'm pleased to announce that we're working with the Congress in order to provide an additional $30 million separate from the humanitarian assistance that was announced yesterday in order to meet immediate and community-level needs.
We also need to work together – all of us – to support Lebanon's economy, as President Kim has discussed, as it absorbs the strains of this conflict in Syria. For our part, the United States has committed $61.2 million in economic and development assistance this year alone. And as the nation continues to confront its challenges with courage and resolve, we will remain committed to trying to strengthen Lebanon's civil society.
My friends, everyone here knows that some of these difficulties have deeper roots than the present conflict in Syria. Many obligations set forth in Security Council Resolutions 1701 and 1559 remain unfulfilled. And until the Government of Lebanon is in full control of its territory, unnecessary risks to its stability will remain. The state of Lebanon and its security institutions must gain the means to control Lebanese territory and borders, must have a monopoly of arms, and be accountable to all Lebanese citizens. And we are prepared to be partners with all Lebanese who share that vision.
The United States urges Lebanon's various political factions to focus now on forming a responsible government. This is, and must be, a Lebanese process that reflects the aspirations of the Lebanese people.
And it is important today that our friendship with Lebanon for all of us be expressed not in words alone. We have to show our commitment with actions that support a sovereign, secure, and prosperous Lebanon. That's part of the commitment the President upped yesterday with the additional funds, and we will continue to do our part to guarantee that the future the Lebanese people deserve and the future that we forge together is made a reality.
Thank you. (Applause.)

Remarks by U.S. Ambassador David Hale Following his Meeting with Minister of Information Walid Daouq

September 25, 2013
Good morning.  I am grateful to His Excellency Minister Daouq for the opportunity to meet him today and discuss a wide range of issues of interest to both of us.

Among those issues was freedom of the press here in Lebanon.  And I think we both agree that the work of a free press is crucial to a healthy democracy and society.  And I was very pleased to hear from the Minister his own personal, strong commitment to press freedoms.  America will always stand with a free press, and with those who defend press freedoms.

We also discussed the meeting yesterday between our Presidents, President Obama and President Suleiman.  It was an excellent meeting and gave President Obama an opportunity to express his appreciation for President Suleiman's extraordinary leadership at a very challenging time both here in Lebanon and the region.  We know that the conflict in Syria is affecting every aspect of life in Lebanon, and therefore we commend Lebanon's policy of disassociation from the Syrian conflict.

Unfortunately, Hizballah is deeply involved in a conflict that has displaced millions of people and threatens to destabilize the region.

This is felt strongly here in Lebanon.  For that reason, yesterday President Obama announced additional assistance to Lebanon for both the humanitarian and security challenges that Lebanon faces.

This aid comprises an additional $74 million to help Lebanon cope with the Syrian refugees and help Lebanese host communities.  This aid will enhance the delivery of vital services, provide educational and vocational training, and support health projects.  The total U.S. contribution for Lebanon to date is now over $254 million in support of refugees from the Syrian conflict and Lebanese host communities.

We are also strong partners with the Lebanese state institutions that are responsible for security and accountable to all Lebanese.  President Obama also announced yesterday an additional $8.7 million of support for the Lebanese Armed Forces for internal stability and border security missions.  This brings our total security assistance to over a billion dollars in recent years.

This aid helps the LAF fulfill its mandate as Lebanon's sole legitimate defense force and to implement outstanding Security Resolutions, such as 1701 and 1559.

The Minister and I also discussed today's meeting of the International Support Group for Lebanon in New York.  This meeting, chaired by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, and attended by key Foreign Ministers and other leaders is a show of solidarity with the Lebanese state and people.

The American and Lebanese people enjoy a longstanding friendship and partnership at many levels.  We want to deepen these ties to benefit both of us, and to continue to help the Lebanese build state institutions that are answerable to all Lebanese.

Thank you very much and thank you Mr. Minister.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Remarks by President Obama and President Sleiman of Lebanon before Bilateral Meeting

The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
September 24, 2013
Conference Building
United Nations

PRESIDENT OBAMA: It's a great pleasure to have the time to meet with President Sleiman of Lebanon. He has shown extraordinary leadership through a very challenging period for not only Lebanon, but also for the region. I appreciate his courage and determination to maintain Lebanon's unity and stability, and he has the full support of the United States in his efforts to uphold Lebanon's sovereignty and independence.
I commend the President's efforts in insisting that all parties in Lebanon refrain from engaging in the Syrian conflict. The United States strongly rejects Hezbollah's deep involvement in the Syrian conflict, which at this point has displaced millions of people and threatens to destabilize the region. We are pleased that there may be progress in getting rid of Syria's chemical weapons, which I think would be important for the security not only of the Syrian people but also for neighbors like Lebanon. And we will continue, as I said in my speech this morning, to press for a resolution of the Syrian conflict so that the rights of all Syrians are upheld, including Christians.
The Lebanese people have been tremendously generous during this difficult period, welcoming hundreds of thousands of refugees from Syria into their homes and their villages. The United States is providing over $254 million in humanitarian assistance to assist refugees in Lebanon in communities that are hosting them. And as you heard me say today, I think it's very important for the international community to step up to do even more.
The United States also strongly supports the role of the Lebanese Armed Forces in maintaining Lebanon's stability. And today we're announcing an additional $8.7 million that will provide needed equipment in support of the Lebanese Armed Forces' internal stability and border security missions.
So, Mr. President, thank you for your strong efforts in maintaining unity and stability in Lebanon. You should feel confident that the United States will work very hard not only with you but also in encouraging the international community to provide the support that Lebanon needs at this difficult time, and to deal with the spillover of the crisis in Syria. And thank you for taking the time to meet with me today.
PRESIDENT SLEIMAN: (As translated.) At the outset, I would like to thank President Obama for fixing this meeting that I consider very important in this period that Lebanon and the Middle East are going through. It is indeed a very difficult period because Lebanon lives in between various conflicts and crises that are now posing a threat to all of us.
First we began with the Israeli conflict, which has led to the displacement of hundreds of Palestinian refugees towards Lebanon, and today we are facing the Syrian crisis, which also has led to the displacement of around one million Syrians until now -- that amount now to one-fourth of the Lebanese population.
The United States of America has provided continuous support to Lebanon. It has supported the political process. It has supported the Lebanese Armed Forces. And today we have heard President Obama declare the allocation of $8.7 million additional for the Lebanese army, aside from the assistance provided by the United States to support the refugees in order to enable us to host them, and, of course, the United States' contribution to the adoption of the presidential declaration by the Security Council on the 10th of July, which constitutes a road map for the support of Lebanon on all levels.
At the eve of the international meeting for the International Support Group for Lebanon scheduled for tomorrow, the 25th of September, we do hope that the United States will have a great contribution to this meeting in order to provide further political and economic support for Lebanon, as well as support for the Lebanese Armed Forces and the necessary support to assimilate or to take in the Syrian refugees.
Of course, taking in the Syrian refugees depends on Lebanon sharing the financial burdens of taking them in, as well as their numeral burdens, so we're thinking of implicating or involving the states in hosting some numbers of these refugees. This, of course, requires to consider how they can be relocated and hosted in some safe zones inside Syria if further tension occurs, and working also on returning some of these refugees to Syria, to some safe zones, through the U.N. organization. Of course, Syria has plenty of vast spaces away from the conflict, where they can be relocated. And here we have to mention that the area of Syria is 18 times that of Lebanon.
At the political level, the Lebanese constitution, which was based on the Ta'if Accord, has set up a safety net, a political safety net in Lebanon, which helped it to get over all the crises. At this point of time, during this period, we need an international escort through an international safety net to spare us all the repercussions of the crises and conflicts going on around Lebanon.
This political process has to be pursued in Lebanon by putting into application the Baabda Declaration. The Baabda Declaration is the agreement reached by all the members of the National Dialogue Committee. And it sets out not to interfere in the Syrian affairs by all the Lebanese parties. Of course, we are working and striving in order to implement all the provisions of this declaration by all the Lebanese parties.
On the other hand, we wish that the necessary impetus would be given to support the Lebanese Armed Forces to the five-year capabilities building plan in order to enable it to undertake all its mission regarding the defense exclusively of the Lebanese territories and countering the terrorist operations which have reached out to all the world. And Lebanon, of course, can be a victim of these actions, terrorist actions, as a result of the extension of extremism and terrorism in the region.
Of course, all these issues, they come in the frame of the expected solution in the region, and first of all, the solution for Syria. We hope that the American-Russian agreement about chemical weapons will mark the beginning of the process of finding a political solution that will ensure democracy in Syria as well as peace and security in its neighboring countries.
Of course, we have to talk about the ongoing negotiations under U.S. patronage between the Palestinians and the Israelis about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. We hope that these negotiations will be a step towards comprehensive negotiations aiming at reaching a just and comprehensive solution for the Middle East according to the terms of reference of the Madrid Conference, the international resolutions and the Arab Peace Initiative. Of course, these negotiations, they affect the neighboring countries, and especially Lebanon, which have a pending fight in this context that relates to the settlement of the Palestinian refugees. Lebanon cannot accept the settlement of these refugees on its territory, according to the Arab Peace Initiative.
In all cases, we hope that attention will be given to the security of the Arab region. This region is characterized by culture and civilization and diversity. It is the cradle of the divine religions, and we hope that it will be taken as a strategic objective for peace in the Middle East and in the world.
Of course, this can be done by facilitating and preserving the presence of the constituents of these countries. I mean by that the civilization constituents which are deeply rooted in these countries. These are the minorities. We have to preserve a free and active presence of these minorities not only by catering for their physiological and security needs, but also by involving them in political activity of the country where they live, regardless of their numbers, but taking into account the civilization that these minorities represent.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Thank you, everybody.

FACT SHEET: U.S. Security Assistance to Lebanon

The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
The United States recognizes the important role the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) play as Lebanon's sole legitimate defense force.  We value our on-going cooperation with Lebanon to strengthen the capacity of the LAF to enable it to secure Lebanon's borders and defend its sovereignty and independence.  U.S. security assistance also supports the LAF's mission to implement UN Security Council Resolutions 1559 and 1701.  U.S. support comprises approximately 75% of all international security assistance to Lebanon. 

Section 1206 Military Assistance:  The United States has approved $8.7M in new FY 2013 assistance focused on increasing the LAF's ability to monitor, secure, and protect Lebanon's borders against terrorist threats and the illicit transfer of goods.  Since 2006, the United States has provided over $100M in Section 1206 funding (in addition to Foreign Military Financing, described below) to assist the LAF in building its counterterrorism capabilities. 

International Military Education and Training (IMET):  Lebanon's IMET program is the fourth largest in the world.    IMET builds strong ties between the United States and Lebanon by bringing Lebanese officers and officials to the United States to study and train alongside U.S. troops.  In FY 2013, Lebanon has received $2.2M under the IMET program, funding that allowed more than 65 Lebanese military students to attend education and training in the United States.  The majority of IMET is focused on Professional Military Education.  Since 1985, the IMET program has brought more than 1,000 Lebanese military students to the United States for education and training.

Foreign Military Financing (FMF): Lebanon has received $71.2M in FY 2013, which provides equipment and training that support internal security, border protection, and counterterrorism missions.  The United States works closely with the LAF on multi-year capability development plans laying out the priorities for both Lebanese and U.S. funding.  Since 2005, the United States has provided more than $700 million in FMF. 

Examples of recent U.S. assistance include:

  • Air Force:  Spare parts for the existing Huey I fleet in order to improve the readiness of the Huey fleet to over 70%, an additional six Huey II helicopters (including spare parts and logistics support), and two Cessna caravans. 
  • Navy:  A state-of-the-art forty-two meter coastal security craft and eight rigid hull inflatable boats, with eight more shipping this fall. 
  • Army:  High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles (HMMWVs) plus spare parts; M113 armored personnel carriers, trucks and tractors; Tow II anti-tank launchers and missiles; M198 155 mm howitzers; 120 mm and 82 mm mortars; AT-4 anti-tank weapons; MK19 grenade launchers; sniper rifles, machine guns (including M4, M16A4, and M-60s), grenade launchers for rifles, and ammunition ranging from 5.56 mm to 155 mm; support equipment, including fully equipped field hospital, body armor, night vision goggles, and chemical weapon detection and protection equipment; and tactical radios, switch boards and a trucked radio system. 

Training:  The United States manages a comprehensive training program inside Lebanon tailored specifically to the LAF's operational and technical needs.  The U.S. Government also hosts an annual naval exercise in Lebanon and facilitates LAF participation in regional multilateral military exercises such as EAGER LION.

Saturday, September 07, 2013

Statement by U.S. Ambassador David Hale at the Grand Serail

September 6, 2013
I had the great honor to present my credentials to President Sleiman this morning. I just finished meeting with Caretaker Prime Minister Mikati and we discussed a range of issues regarding the political, economic, and security situation in Lebanon. I will meet with Prime Minister-Designate Salam later today. Let me also say how gratified I am by the warm welcome I have received upon my return to Lebanon.

I know this is a time that is challenging for all Lebanese. A central topic of my meetings today related to the situation in Syria. America's leaders are focused now on how to respond to the Asad regime's brutal attack on its citizens with the barbaric means of chemical weapons. Without question, the United States believes the conflict in Syria must end through a political, not a military solution; but meanwhile, the Asad regime must be held accountable for its outrageous chemical attack against its own people.

We are also very focused on insulating Lebanon from any aftermath of any response to Syria's chemical attack, and preserving Lebanon's policy of disassociation from the Syria conflict. That policy is the right one for Lebanon's stability and for the region. We believe the interests of the Lebanese people would be best served if all Lebanese adhere to that policy of disassociation. Yet one party in Lebanon, Hizballah, continues to blatantly violate it through direct participation in the Syrian conflict, thereby exacerbating the challenges to Lebanon.

The American-Lebanese relationship is and will remain strong and multi-faceted. We are committed to deepening and broadening the partnership between our countries, as it serves both of our interests. Your leaders have charted a course of national institution building, and we are proud of our support for that path.

I returned to Lebanon a week ago. In this short period, I have talked to many ordinary Lebanese. I have heard from them a common vision that they share for this country: a peaceful and prosperous Lebanon; a Lebanon where people and their children can lead safe and secure lives in ways of their own choosing, a Lebanon where decisions are made by government institutions accountable to the people, not by factions that answer to others. We share that Lebanese vision, and will work with you to make it a full reality.

Thank you.

Security Message for U.S. Citizens: Announcement of Drawdown of U.S. Embassy Staff

September 6, 2013

On September 6, the Department of State drew down non-emergency personnel and family members from Embassy Beirut due to potential threats to U.S. Mission facilities and personnel.  The Department of State urges U.S. citizens to avoid all travel to Lebanon because of current safety and security concerns.  U.S. citizens living and working in Lebanon should understand that they accept risks in remaining and should carefully consider those risks.U.S. citizens concerned for their safety should consider making plans to depart by commercial means.  U.S. citizens will be responsible for arranging their own travel out of Lebanon.  Beirut International Airport is open and commercial flights are operating.  Travelers should check with their airlines prior to traveling to verify the flight schedule.  
Those who remain should prepare to depart at short notice.  This includes ensuring that travel documents for all family members are available and up to date.  U.S. citizens with valid passports and foreign dependents with valid passports or visas should not/not contact the Embassy for travel arrangements.  Rather, they should make their own arrangements directly with transportation companies or travel agents.
U.S. citizens should be aware that the Embassy does not offer "protection" services to individuals who feel unsafe.  U.S. citizens with special medical or other needs should be aware of the risks of remaining in Lebanon given their condition and should be prepared to seek treatment in Lebanon if they cannot arrange for travel out of the country. U.S. citizens traveling or residing in Lebanon who choose to remain should be aware that the U.S. Embassy's ability to reach all areas of Lebanon is limited.  The Embassy urges all U.S. citizens in Lebanon to monitor the media for the latest developments.
There are no plans to conduct a U.S. government-sponsored evacuation at this time.  U.S. government-facilitated evacuations, such as the evacuation that took place from Lebanon in 2006, occur only when no safe commercial alternatives exist.  Evacuation assistance is provided on a cost-recovery basis, which means the traveler must reimburse the U.S. government for travel costs.  The lack of a valid U.S. passport may hinder the ability of U.S. citizens to depart the country and may slow the U.S. Embassy's ability to provide assistance.  U.S. citizens in Lebanon should therefore ensure that they have proper and current documentation at all times.  U.S. Legal Permanent Residents should consult with the Department of Homeland Security before they depart the United States to ensure they have proper documentation to re-enter.  Further information on the Department's role during emergencies can be found on the website of the Bureau of Consular Affairs:
As staff levels at the Embassy are restricted, our ability to assist U.S. citizens in an emergency and provide routine consular services is limited and may be further constrained by the fluid security situation.  The safety of our visitors and staff is our highest priority.  Due to disruptions caused by the current environment, consular services could experience unusual delays.  This situation may affect U.S. Citizen Services, as well as processing times for visa applications.  Changes to appointment schedules may occur on very short notice.  The Consular Section's capacity to respond to inquiries is limited at this time due to the volume of inquiries.  We regret the inconvenience and thank you for your patience as we strive to provide efficient service while prioritizing your safety.
We strongly recommend that U.S. citizens traveling to or residing in Lebanon enroll in the Department of State's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) at  STEP enrollment gives you the latest security updates and makes it easier for the U.S. embassy or nearest U.S. consulate to contact you in an emergency.  If you don't have Internet access, enroll directly with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.
Regularly monitor the State Department's website at, where you can find current Travel Warnings, including the Travel Warning for Lebanon, Travel Alerts, and the Worldwide Caution.  Read the Country Specific Information for Lebanon at  For additional information, refer to "A Safe Trip Abroad" on the State Department's website.
Contact the U.S. Embassy for up-to-date information on travel restrictions.  You can also call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free from within the United States and Canada, or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries.  These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).  Follow us on Twitter at and Facebook at, and download our free Smart Traveler iPhone App at to have travel information at your fingertips.
The U.S. Embassy in Beirut Lebanon is located at Awkar facing the Municipality, PO Box 70-840, Beirut and is open Monday through Friday, 8 AM to 4:30 PM, (961) (4) 542600 or (961) (4) 543600.  If you are a U.S. citizen in need of urgent assistance, the emergency number for the U.S. Embassy is (961) (4) 542600 or (961) (4) 543600.  For further information, U.S. citizens may also access our website at Embassy in Lebanon.