Embassy Beirut is pleased to announce the arrival of Ambassador Richard Jones, who has assumed the duties of Chargé d’Affaires ad interim at the U.S. Embassy in Beirut. Ambassador Jones will help fill a transition period until the nomination and confirmation of an ambassador.
Ambassador Jones has deep experience serving in the region, including as ambassador to Lebanon from 1996 to 1998. His return to Beirut and continued service underscores the priority that the United States places on its strong and enduring partnership with Lebanon at this critical time.
Below are his remarks as delivered at the Grand Serail today following his meeting with Prime Minster Tamman Salam.
Good afternoon, everyone. It is a real honor and a privilege for me to be back in Lebanon. I sincerely appreciate the warm welcome I have received since my return. While much has changed since my last stay, one key element remains the same: America’s commitment to Lebanon and to our shared, democratic values.
I just finished meeting with Prime Minister Tammam Salam, and we discussed the many interlocking political, economic, security, and humanitarian challenges confronting Lebanon today. I told Prime Minister Salam that America will remain a steadfast partner as Lebanon responds to the threats presented by the spillover from the crisis in Syria. Much like my predecessor, during my tenure here, I will work tirelessly to ensure American assistance in the military, economic, and humanitarian spheres continues to help build a secure, prosperous, and stable Lebanon.
America’s commitment to Lebanon’s security is more than words. We have recently taken several concrete steps to demonstrate that pledge of support. As I discussed with the Prime Minister, just last weekend, the White House announced plans to further enhance our military assistance for Lebanon to help it defend its borders against violent extremism. This new, as yet unspecified, support is in addition to the recently announced $59 million increase in border security assistance and a doubling of our foreign military financing for Lebanon to $150 million next year. Lebanon has become the sixth largest annual recipient of U.S. foreign military financing in the world, and our assistance will continue to equip and modernize the Lebanese Armed Forces in order to bolster their ability to counter the extremist threat and to fulfill the LAF’s responsibilities as the sole entity with the legitimacy and capacity to defend Lebanon’s territory and its people.
Less well known, but equally as important, is America’s civilian assistance to Lebanon. Through programs that bring clean water to the homes of thousands of Lebanese, improve access to high-quality education, and create new jobs, we are supporting a brighter future for Lebanon’s people. As Lebanon copes with the massive influx of refugees fleeing the violence in Syria, America stands with Lebanon as the single largest donor of humanitarian assistance, helping to address the strains on Lebanon’s economy, its social service providers, and its infrastructure. Since the start of the crisis in Syria, we have provided nearly $1 billion in humanitarian assistance to Lebanese host communities and organizations grappling with the influx of refugees into the country.
America has been and will continue to be generous. But domestic political stability cannot be bought or furnished from the outside. Lebanese political leaders need to come together now to find innovative compromises and Lebanese solutions to the challenges facing the country, so as to end the current political paralysis. In sum, the Cabinet, Parliament, and a new President need to get back to work for the benefit of the people they were or will be elected to serve. While these challenges require Lebanese solutions, please rest assured that America will stand by your side as you grapple with them.
Thank you very much.