Good morning. I would like to thank the Lebanese people for their warm welcome. It is truly an honor and a privilege to serve as the U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon.
I just finished meeting with Prime Minister Tammam Salam. We had a long conversation today during which we discussed the importance of the American-Lebanese partnership. It is important for the Lebanese people, the American people, and the region. Whether in education, business, cultural exchanges, or security, our countries are stronger when we work together. I assured the Prime Minister that, as Ambassador, I will work tirelessly to continue and expand our efforts to ensure a secure, stable, and prosperous Lebanon.
One key aspect of America’s support is our assistance to the Lebanese army and the security services. America has been, is, and will continue to be the country’s foremost security partner. Since 2005, we have provided approximately $1.4 billion in security assistance and critical training to the Lebanese Armed Forces. Last year, the United States provided $150 million in Foreign Military Financing for Lebanon and an additional $60 million to strengthen border security efforts. This continued assistance demonstrates our commitment to supporting the army as it meets its responsibilities to defend and protect Lebanon’s borders.
But our civilian programs are every bit as important as our security work. Through programs that improve access to high-quality education, bring clean water to the homes of thousands of Lebanese, and create new jobs, we support a brighter future for the Lebanese people. In addition, we are the largest single donor of humanitarian assistance to Lebanon. America truly appreciates the generosity of the Lebanese communities that are bearing the brunt of the unprecedented influx of refugees. We will continue to support them. Last week, Secretary Kerry announced an additional $84 million in humanitarian assistance to Lebanon, which brings total U.S. humanitarian aid to Lebanon to nearly $1.2 billion since the start of the Syrian crisis. This additional U.S. funding supports vulnerable Lebanese communities by rehabilitating the municipal water and sanitation systems, supporting local community centers, providing supplies and new equipment to health clinics, and improving school facilities.
I understand that Lebanon faces a myriad of political, economic, and humanitarian challenges. As I arrive in Beirut, I want to send a clear message to the Lebanese people: You are not alone. America will continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with you as you confront these challenges. Together, we can and we will work towards a secure, stable, and prosperous Lebanon. I know in my heart that we will be able to achieve it.