Good afternoon, everyone. I just landed at Beirut International Airport a little while ago and this is my first stop. I am here in Beirut today on the instructions of Secretary Pompeo to express the condolences of the American people for the Lebanese people for the losses, the suffering, and the hardship that have resulted from the explosion last week.
Some of you may know my personal history; Lebanon has been a big part of my life for many decades and seeing the magnitude of this tragedy is really profoundly moving. But just as profoundly moving is what I just heard today from the volunteers at this site, who are putting aside their daily jobs, are committed to working in collaboration with NGOs from across the spectrum in Lebanon to meet the emergency needs of the people of this area. And that is really encouraging.
And if that same spirit of unity and collaboration and focus on getting things done could not only be tapped to rebuild Beirut, but to undertake the necessary reforms that will bring the kind of transformation that is necessary for Lebanon–to make sure that things like this never happen again; the economic and fiscal reforms that are needed; the end to dysfunctional governments and empty promises; truly going on the path of restoring what I think all Lebanese want to see, which is a Lebanon that is guided by the Lebanese people, that fulfills their ambitions and their needs, not those of others.
America is ready to support a Lebanese government that reflects and responds to the will of the people in what I just said, and genuinely commits and acts for real change.
I will have more to say tomorrow about America’s message to the Lebanese people after my meetings. I have a full day tomorrow with Lebanese officials and politicians, but also civil society, religious leaders, young people. I am here to listen to all Lebanese and all voices that want to be heard and I will be taking those messages back to Washington, D.C.
One thing that I would like to announce today, though, is that the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation, the FBI, will soon join Lebanese and international investigators at the invitation of the Lebanese in order to help answer questions that I know everyone has about the circumstances that led up to this explosion and to work with Lebanese in this regard. This is just one of the many ways that we are extending our hand to the Lebanese people at this dire time.
I’m with you, I stand with you, my government does, and the American people do.
Thank you for taking time to join me today for this walk.