Thursday, October 24, 2013

Statement by the President on the Anniversary of the Attack on the U.S. Marine Barracks in Beirut, Lebanon

The White House

Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
Thirty years ago today, 220 Marines, 18 sailors, and 3 soldiers lost their lives to a Hizballah suicide bomber who attacked the Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon.  Minutes later, 58 French paratroopers lost their lives when a second Hizballah suicide bomber attacked the French barracks.  This despicable act of terrorism was the deadliest single-day death toll for the U.S. Marine Corps since the World War II Battle of Iwo Jima.  Our Marines and their fellow service members were serving in Beirut as part of a multinational force during the Lebanese civil war, to help bring stability to a troubled region and to defend our strategic interests in the Middle East.  They came in peace. 

Our 241 service members will be remembered in ceremonies at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, at the U.S. Embassy in Lebanon, and in homes around the United States.  We join with the families and their loved ones in paying tribute to the fallen and in sharing our deep appreciation for the ultimate sacrifice made in service to our nation.  We also honor the courage and bravery of those warriors who survived the attack and spent days digging their brothers out of the rubble.  They were faithful to their comrades in arms and served with honor and distinction in the finest tradition of the U.S. military.    

The proud history of the U.S. military continues today as our service members risk their lives around the world to promote freedom and security and to deter terrorism.  We are grateful for their sacrifices and honored by their commitment to defending our nation, our citizens, and our values.     

We also renew our commitment to promoting Lebanon's stability, sovereignty, and independence and to our partnership with the Lebanese Armed Forces.  We continue to support the Lebanese people as they seek to form a government that reflects their aspirations and that will strengthen Lebanon's ability to defend its national interests and meet its international obligations.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Hagel Marks 30th Anniversary of Beirut Barracks Bombing

American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Oct. 23, 2013 – Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, who is in Brussels today meeting with NATO defense ministers, has issued a statement commemorating the 30th anniversary of the deadly terrorist attack on a Marine barracks in Beirut.
Here is the secretary's statement:
Today we remember the 241 U.S. service members who were killed 30 years ago in the attacks by Hezbollah against the U.S. Marine compound in Beirut. It was a deadly and tragic day for the Marines, the Department of Defense, and the United States of America -- one that will never be forgotten.
The United States will always honor the sacrifice of those fallen service members, whose mission was to bring peace and security to Lebanon. As we reflect on the legacy of that terrible day, we strengthen our resolve to support the people of Lebanon, and we give thanks for the many sacrifices our military, development and diplomatic personnel are making across the globe to protect Americans and promote our values and interests.

Remarks by Ambassador Hale on the 30th Anniversary of the Attack on the U.S. Marine Barracks in Beirut

October 23, 2013
Good afternoon and welcome to the Ambassador of France, Patrice Paoli, and the French Defense Attaché, Colonel Olivier Labrosse.  Thank you all for joining us today to remember the sacrifice of 241 American service personnel at the Marine Barracks in Beirut thirty years ago. 
American Marines came to Lebanon, with French, British and Italian colleagues, in 1982 in order to help end foreign occupation of Lebanon and restore order and stability in this war-torn land during a dark time in its history.
The Marines came in peace, for peace.
Hizballah's response was a suicide bombing on their barracks that killed 220 American marines, 18 sailors, and three soldiers, and wounded 128 others.  It was the deadliest attack against the Marines since the battle of Iwo Jima in February, 1945.  Thirty minutes later, 58 French paratroopers were blown up in a similar attack on their barracks.
I remember this day thirty years ago very well.  I was in graduate school studying Arabic and the Middle East and waiting for admission to the U.S. Foreign Service.  Just as a generation of Americans carries the iconic image of the World Trade Center Towers on 9/11, many of my generation remember an iconic photo of a wounded American Marine being carried by stretcher out of the rubble of those barracks.  It has come to my mind every time I have passed that site, just outside Beirut airport.  
Thirty years on, we honor the men and women who gave their lives for our nation and for peace.  We honor the courage and bravery of those who survived the attack and fought to rescue their comrades from the rubble.  And we seek to honor their memory with our own commitment to the defense of our nation and of our allies, and to peace for this troubled region. 
Thank you.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Remarks by U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon David Hale Following his Meeting with Fares Suaid, Coordinator for the March 14 General Secretariat

October 21, 2013

Thank you, Mr. Secretary General, for the very good conversation that I just had with you and your colleagues, other leaders in the March 14 movement. As you said, we discussed many topics. The United States and the elements represented in March 14 share many values and many common interests, not least a desire to support Lebanon's constitutional practices, institutions and democratic traditions, and the implementation of the Taif Agreement.

Last Friday, President Sleiman held a follow up meeting with the participants of the International Support Group for Lebanon. It is a special thing when Russia, America, China, the Europeans, the UN and other international bodies agree on something. Today, they agree on some basic principles and goals in support of Lebanon. Our common agenda for Lebanon stands apart from any developments elsewhere in the Middle East.

Together, the permanent members of the Security Council and Europe want Lebanon to be stable, prosperous, and apart from the conflict in Syria. To achieve those goals, the international community wants to help Lebanon press forward in upholding the Baabda Declaration and in implementing relevant Security Council resolutions, including 1701 and 1559 and in supporting the Special Tribunal for Lebanon to ensure that justice is done.

The United States is also aware of the great burden imposed on Lebanon by the flow of refugees from Syria. We seek to increase and expedite assistance both to refugees and to host Lebanese communities affected by the war in Syria. To date, the United States has contributed over $254 million to help meet the needs of refugees here in Lebanon and the Lebanese communities that host them.

But we know money is not the solution. It is necessary to find a lasting political resolution of the Syrian conflict – for which the Asad regime bears full responsibility – based on the Geneva Communique. For the United States, it is clear that the Asad regime must go.

Today's meeting with the Secretary General was an occasion for me to meet again with old and enduring friends. I hear all the time from ordinary Lebanese their strong desire for normal lives, so they can educate their children, practice their faiths, hold their opinions freely and exercise their democratic rights, and live in a peaceful and stable environment free of the scourge of corruption.

As the American Ambassador, my job is to hear those voices, to listen to all Lebanese, to represent my country to all Lebanese, and to do what America can to help the Lebanese fulfill those very human, and unmet, ambitions.

One final word, I'd like to express today our warm welcome for the release of the Lebanese pilgrims and wish that all Lebanese and other nationals detained in Syria also gain urgent release, including the missing bishops and others who are detained there.

Thank you.