Good morning. Prime Minister Salam and I just met to discuss his upcoming trip to New York for the UN General Assembly opening and the ministerial meeting of the International Support Group for Lebanon. The ISG meeting once again demonstrates the international community’s strong support for Lebanon’s stability, sovereignty, and security.
For our part, America’s support for the Lebanese army continues to deepen. I am very pleased to announce today that my government is allotting an additional $59 million for border security equipment for the army.
In addition, this week America received the latest, substantial transfer of funds from Saudi Arabia to purchase more U.S. equipment to help the LAF. These funds, combined with U.S. funding, will assist the Lebanese army to develop further a precision air force strike capability; we will announce the exact details as soon as they have been arranged. This latest transfer and project are yet another demonstration of the strong and effective partnership among Lebanon, America, and Saudi Arabia to improve the Lebanese army’s capability to defend Lebanon’s borders and people.
Whether through political support, military aid, or humanitarian assistance, America will stand by Lebanon. Only our actions are the standard by which to judge America’s commitment to Lebanese stability. Those actions include an American investment of more than $1.3 billion in security assistance for Lebanon in the past 10 years. This year, Lebanon is the fifth largest recipient of U.S. foreign military financing. And Lebanon is also the fifth largest annual recipient of U.S. bilateral training for your military personnel. America has provided nearly $1 billion in humanitarian assistance to host communities and Syrian refugees in Lebanon since the tragic conflict in Syria began. And our bilateral development assistance for the last decade will also exceed one billion dollars, to help income generating opportunities, education, and provision of services such as water.
But when it comes to stability, there is no amount of foreign assistance or goodwill that can substitute for the stability that comes from good governance. That can only come from within. I know Lebanon’s leaders are working to reactivate a functioning cabinet and to resume dialogue on the deeper issues. We welcome any such effort, and earlier this month we joined other members of the UN Security Council in reiterating that now is the time for parliament to meet and elect a president as soon as possible and to schedule parliamentary elections.
As I said several weeks ago, citizens everywhere look to the state to protect their right to free speech and assembly; and citizens everywhere have a responsibility to exercise their right peacefully and responsibly. And accountability is expected when either side transgresses rights or responsibilities. We support these universal rights, and urge adherence to these responsibilities across the world. America supports these values here in Lebanon and the principle of civil society’s right to voice its views and frustrations, as does the Prime Minister. But the United States is in no way involved, directly or indirectly, in the civil society demonstrations, nor do we condone violence or the destruction of property.
We very much look forward to the Prime Minister’s trip to New York and the opportunity to discuss with him ways the international community can be of further support for Lebanon and our shared goals of stability, security, and good governance.