BEIRUT: Washington will continue to provide support for Lebanon to address the growing challenges of the Syrian conflict as long as the country addresses the crises in a “responsible and practical way,” U.S. Ambassador David Hale said Thursday.
Hale held separate talks with Speaker Nabih Berri, caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati and Prime Minister-designate Tammam Salam aimed at following up on the meeting between President Michel Sleiman and U.S. President Barack Obama in New York.
“I think it is very important to bear in mind, that as I said, over just the last 48 hours, the United States has announced an additional $112 million of support for Lebanon,” Hale said after his meeting with Salam in Moseitbeh.
“That is a tangible commitment, and I think you can count on our continued support so long as Lebanon continues to address these crises in a responsible and practical way that we’ve seen it do so today,” he said.
Obama and Sleiman met on the sidelines of the General Assembly meeting Tuesday when the former announced $8.7 million to support the Lebanese Army in protecting the borders against terrorism and the transfer of illicit goods.
The meeting came after the U.S. president announced $339 million in additional humanitarian aid in response to the Syrian crisis, including $74 million for Lebanon to support the refugees.
The ambassador said his consultations with Lebanese officials were aimed at discussing how to follow up on “the very good meetings that were held in New York” including Wednesday’s meeting of the International Support Group for Lebanon.
The envoy added that the group demonstrated the political support the international community feels for Lebanon, particularly for the Army for its efforts in managing the many spillover effects of the Syrian conflict.
“Words of support alone, of course, we know, are never enough, and so that is why we are discussing today how to follow up on these important meetings,” Hale said.
“It is also why in the last 48 hours between President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry, the United States, in fact, has announced over $112 million in assistance for Lebanon,” he said.
Hale also noted that the U.S. announced late Wednesday another $30 million for immediate direct assistance to help local communities that are dealing with the impact of the refugee crisis.