Chargé d’Affaires ad interim Ambassador Richard H. Jones met today with Interior Minister Nohad Machnouk as part of his meetings with various Ministries to reiterate the United States’ commitment to a strong partnership with the Lebanese people and ask about his ministry’s plans for organizing the municipal elections. The U.S. government looks forward to this renewal of democracy in May.
Following is the statement Ambassador Jones gave after the meeting:
Good afternoon everybody.
I just had a very nice meeting with the Minister of the Interior. We discussed a wide variety of issues, including U.S.-Lebanese cooperation on police training. The United States State Department alone has provided $160 million for the training of members of the ISF. We do this training in cooperation with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (the FBI) and we think it’s been a very successful program that we’re intending to continue for the foreseeable future. The Minister asked for our assistance in elaborating plans for the future, for our assistance as well as for the future structure of the Internal Security Forces, and we will look at that request very seriously.
We also talked about plans and prospects for the municipal elections. I’m very pleased the Minister informed me that everything is on schedule, that he’s seeking a budget, which is a very important issue. You can’t have elections without spending money, and in order to have the elections they need a budget and I think it will be discussed at an upcoming Council of Ministers meeting. I of course complimented him on the fact that the Council of Ministers is working again, because the functioning of government is a very important part of Lebanese democracy. These elections are a very important part of Lebanese democracy. It’s been six years, I think, almost since we’ve had an election in Lebanon of any kind, the last one being the municipal elections of 2010, May of 2010. So we are looking forward to seeing a renewal of Lebanon’s democracy with the holding of the municipal elections this year.