Friday, September 26, 2014

Remarks at International Support Group For Lebanon

William J. Burns
Deputy Secretary of State
United Nations
New York City
September 26, 2014

Thank you, Secretary General Ban. Prime Minister Salam, it's an honor to be with you. During a period when the Lebanese Presidency is vacant and when the people of Lebanon are confronting a number of threats and difficulties, you have shown extraordinary leadership. As Secretary Kerry told you earlier today, your commitment to Lebanon has never mattered more and each of us is grateful for it.

At this gathering last year, Secretary Kerry said that Lebanon had rarely faced such a daunting moment. And yet, each of us comes here today knowing that Lebanon is facing an even greater set of challenges, none more pressing than the threat of violent extremists near and inside Lebanon's borders. Last month's extremist attacks in Arsal underscored the dangers and the risk of violence spiraling out of control. Since these attacks, members of ISIL and al-Nusrah have murdered three LAF captives in cold blood and continue to threaten Lebanon's security.

The Lebanese people have borne the horrible brunt of suicide bombings. Mohammad Chatah, a man respected all over the world for his work as an economist and for his service to Lebanon's people, was assassinated two days after Christmas. Rockets have been fired from southern Lebanon and Lebanon's sovereignty has been routinely violated by the Asad regime.

Through these struggles, the Lebanese government has done its utmost to provide for refugees fleeing Syria. Through the attempts of others to destabilize and further divide the nation, Lebanon's leaders have shown remarkable unity. And through daily threats and the danger of extremist violence, the nation's security services have stood together with courage and resolve.

The Lebanese people have been tested and continually prove their strength. But in spite of all of this, Lebanon's situation remains dire. The need for the international community's immediate, coordinated, and tangible support has never been greater.

Together, we can do more to ensure that Lebanon's security forces have the training and equipment they need to defeat the extremists and insulate Lebanon from the crisis in Syria. And together, we need to do much more now to help Lebanese communities cope with the refugee crisis. The work of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and other relief providers on the frontlines of the refugee challenge deserve our strong and continued support. We've been proud to be the top donor during this crisis and will continue to sustain our support during the critical months and years ahead.

With our recent commitment of $103 million to help meet the needs of refugees and their Lebanese host communities, we are ensuring that parents can send their children to school and see a doctor when they get sick. We are helping families pay rent and put a roof over their heads. These are very basic needs that can't be met, that won't be met, unless we and the rest of the international community provide urgent support.

In total, the U.S. has provided over half a billion dollars in humanitarian assistance to Lebanon since the start of the Syria crisis, much of it focused on strengthening critical infrastructure and educational institutions. We are prioritizing our assistance to support the needs identified last fall by the World Bank, so that we can provide immediate relief where it is needed most.

Our contributions to Lebanon's security and stability are essential. But the most critical task fall on Lebanon's leaders themselves. The Lebanese people need them to elect a president, and to do it now. The men and women who make sacrifices every day for their country in Lebanon's security forces deserve to have the political backing that only a fully empowered President and cabinet can provide. Upholding the spirit of the National Pact as well as the letter of the constitution requires the election of a new president. The new president will be charged with protecting the best interests of the Lebanese people, which include respecting Lebanese sovereignty and upholding the Baabda Declaration of disassociation.

The Lebanese people can count on the support of partners across the region and across the world, as well from the United Nations and multiple Security Council Resolutions. Ultimately, Lebanon's most pressing political challenges can only be met by the Lebanese themselves. But the United States will continue to stand with them along the way, working together to realize the promise of a free, democratic, and secure Lebanon.

Thank you very much.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Security Message for U.S. Citizens: Regional Events

September 23, 2014
The U.S. Embassy in Beirut advises U.S. citizens in Lebanon that coalition airstrikes against Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) targets in Syria have begun. While there is no specific threat against U.S. citizens in Lebanon, we encourage U.S. citizens to take appropriate measures to ensure their safety and security, and to exercise heightened awareness of their surroundings at all times.

In recent weeks, kidnappings have become more prevalent in northern and eastern Lebanon. While it does not appear U.S. citizens are being specifically targeted, the U.S. Embassy strongly recommends heightened precautions, including avoiding these areas. The Embassy urges all U.S. citizens in Lebanon to monitor the media for the latest developments.

Please regularly monitor the State Department's website, Travel.State.Gov, where you can find current Travel Warnings, including the Travel Warning for Lebanon, Travel Alerts, and the Worldwide Caution. You can also read the Country Specific Information for Lebanon from within this website. For additional information, refer to "Traveler's Checklist " on the State Department's website.

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). 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.

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). You may also follow us on Twitterand Facebook.

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.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Ambassador Hale Marks the Delivery of 38 Vehicles to the Lebanese Internal Security Forces

September 19, 2014
Today American Ambassador to Lebanon David Hale participated in a ceremony to mark the delivery of 38 vehicles to the Internal Security Forces (ISF) at the ISF Mobile Barracks in Dbayeh. The vehicles delivered, valued at $1.6 million, are: five Dodge Ram Pickup trucks; 23 Ford prisoner vans; and ten Ford Explorers. The United States plans to provide the ISF with over $20 million worth of equipment, specialized training, and infrastructure support over the next 12 months. This will enhance the ISF's operational effectiveness and improve the delivery of law enforcement services to the Lebanese public.
Below are Ambassador Hale's remarks from the event.
Good morning and thank you all for coming today. I am pleased to represent the United States, along with several of my Embassy colleagues, at this ceremony. The Internal Security Forces is a key pillar of public security in Lebanon, and the United States is proud of its longstanding partnership with the ISF to train and equip Lebanon's police force. Since 2008, the Embassy has provided over $140 million to the ISF. This assistance is comprehensive and ongoing.
The vehicles delivered today, valued at $1.6 million, include 23 prisoner transport vehicles that will allow the ISF to increase the number of prisoners that can be escorted to courts for hearings. This will alleviate prison overcrowding by addressing a key-factor in the backlog of court cases and facilitating an important part of the judicial process. The other vehicles provided will be used by the Judicial Police in the conduct of their operations.
Time and again, the ISF, along with the Army and General Security, have demonstrated bravery and courage in their mission to protect Lebanon's security and stability. These security bodies have made many sacrifices in their confrontation with forces seeking to sow instability and division, and Lebanon is safer for these sacrifices. Cooperation and unity among Lebanon's security services will make certain that these forces do not succeed. The United States remains committed to working with the Lebanese people and Lebanon's security institutions to ensure this unity and build a more prosperous, secure Lebanon. Our thoughts and prayers are with the kidnapped Army soldiers and ISF policemen.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Statement by Ambassador David Hale following his meeting with Prime Minister Tammam Salam

September 12, 2014
Media Notice
For Immediate Release
Over the last two weeks, a series of accelerated shipments of American arms and armaments have arrived here, as requested by the Lebanese army following the attack in Arsal.  These deliveries, paid for by the American people, will help the army secure Lebanon's borders and defeat extremist groups that have crossed it.  Specifically, this week brought the delivery of more Hellfire missiles to the Lebanese Army. 
Today, I can announce we are reaching another milestone, as I just discussed with Prime Minister Salam.  The Lebanese government and army have requested additional aircraft from the United States:  an armed Cessna and other light air support aircraft.  The United States will also arm a Cessna the U.S. previously provided to the Lebanese Army.  It is our intention to support those requests for additional aircraft, using funds generously made available to Lebanon by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. 
The army is not the only one protecting Lebanon, nor is it our only partner.  We work with all the security services.  Last week, we donated to the Internal Security Forces bomb detection tools, explosive safety gear, and other equipment.  This is part of an ongoing partnership between America and the ISF, to help the ISF keep the streets of Lebanon safe.
We applaud Lebanon's policy of dissociation from the conflict in Syria, just as we join in supporting your response to the dangerous spillover into Lebanon of that conflict.
We also commend the sacrifices of Lebanon's security services in their mission to insulate Lebanon from this spillover.  The United States condemns in the strongest possible terms the beheading of Lebanese soldiers by ISIL.  The threat posed by ISIL is a challenge to us all.  The United States, too, knows the pain of ISIL's barbarity committed against our own citizens.  This brutality only strengthens our resolve to degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL, through military, intelligence, law enforcement, and diplomatic efforts.  This effort will require time and persistence.  But we are not waiting when it comes to helping right here in Lebanon with security and humanitarian assistance.  In addition to our security assistance, Secretary Kerry has just announced in Ankara that the United States is providing nearly 500 million dollars in additional humanitarian aid to help those affected by the war in Syria.  Of that amount, 103.8 million dollars will be directed toward Lebanon to help Lebanese communities and refugees from Syria who are here.   

Left unchecked, ISIL threatens your sovereignty, stability, and prosperity.  Fortunately, Lebanon is not alone in dealing with this threat.  And together, we will succeed.  The United States has made clear that we will not hesitate to take action against ISIL in this region, or to help you counter the ISIL threat in your country.  But success can best be built on unity and focus – unity within Lebanon, and between Lebanon and its friends.  As I have said before, the absence of a president is depriving the country of an important symbol of unity, and distracting all of us from fully confronting the real threat.