Today, American Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Thomas A. Shannon, Jr. began a two-day visit to Lebanon during which he will meet with leaders of Lebanon’s national and municipal institutions and engage directly with the Lebanese people.
Under Secretary Shannon delivered the following statement after his meeting with Minister of Foreign Affairs Gebran Bassil:
“Good afternoon. I am thrilled to be in Beirut during my first visit to Lebanon. I am grateful for the generous and gracious hospitality of the Lebanese people, and impressed by the dynamism and natural beauty of Lebanon.
I am especially grateful to Foreign Minister Bassil, with whom I have just met. We had an opportunity to discuss a range of bilateral and regional issues, and I want to thank him for his candid views and opinions. We discussed the many challenges facing Lebanon, from terrorist threats, to the presence of over a million Syrian refugees, to political gridlock. I look forward to further exploring and understanding these challenges over the course of my visit, and also identifying and focusing on the many opportunities in front of Lebanon.
The goal of my visit is to further strengthen the American-Lebanese partnership by building on our long-standing support to the country’s institutions and people. For example, this last week, we invested another $20 million to support student retention in Lebanon’s public schools. Over the coming days, I plan to meet with the leaders of your national and municipal institutions and engage directly with the Lebanese people. In all my conversations, my message will be clear – the United States will continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with Lebanon.
I also want to note that, while the United States and the international community will continue to offer unwavering support to Lebanon, we cannot provide solutions to internal issues, such as the presidential vacancy. Those must come from Lebanon’s institutions and people. But, rest assured, as Lebanon continues to devise these solutions and chart its future course, America will continue to support you every step of the way.