Good morning. The Prime Minister and I just reviewed his successful trip to New York for the UN General Assembly and related meetings. These included the ministerial meeting of the International Support Group for Lebanon, which again demonstrated the international community’s steadfast commitment to helping Lebanon confront the range of challenges it faces.
We are focused every day – not only during the support group meeting or the UN General Assembly – on how we can best support Lebanon’s people and institutions to ensure that Lebanon remains stable, secure, sovereign, and free from foreign entanglements.
As I told the Prime Minister today, we have heard his call for continued assistance to the Lebanese Armed Forces. America believes that the army is the sole institution with the legitimacy and mandate to defend the country and its people. To fulfill its mission, it must have the necessary equipment and training.
Today, I’m here to highlight my government’s latest step toward that end, announced on Wednesday in New York: we are more than doubling the baseline amount of U.S. military assistance we are providing to the Lebanese Armed Forces this year compared to last. This means that America is committing $150 million of U.S. assistance funds to the Lebanese Armed Forces for the upcoming year.
These funds will allow the LAF to buy munitions, improve close air support, sustain vehicles and aircraft, modernize airlift capacity, provide training to its soldiers, and add to the mobility of armored units. In sum, it will help ensure the LAF is even better prepared to counter the threats facing Lebanon. This amount is in addition to the $59 million in border security equipment I announced last week for the army.
However, as Lebanon strives to weather the storm around it, international support and assistance can only go so far. There is no substitute for genuine political leadership from within Lebanon. As the ISG participants expressed, we hope to see determined action by Lebanon’s leaders to resolve the political stalemate through the election of a president without further delay, so the institutions of governance can respond to citizens’ needs and provide effective services.
As Lebanon rises to face these internal and external challenges, it can count on the unwavering friendship and support of the United States.