| 16 October 2021, Saturday |

US Embassy in Lebanon shares statement by Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs

Victoria Nuland, the US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, issued the following statement, which was forwarded by the US Embassy in Lebanon:

“Good afternoon, everyone; I appreciate your presence. I’d want to begin by expressing condolences on behalf of the American people for the unfortunate death that occurred outside the Palace of Justice this morning. We support the Lebanese government’s demand for calm and de-escalation of hostilities. The health and survival of Lebanon’s democracy are dependent on its inhabitants’ ability to confront the country’s challenging issues calmly, via dialogue, and with faith in the rule of law.

We came to Lebanon today at the request of President Biden and Secretaries Blinken and Yellen with an interagency delegation that includes the State Department and the Treasury, in order to meet with government leaders and civil society just weeks after the formation of a new government, in order to express our support for the aspirations of the Lebanese people for security, for economic stability and for transparent and accountable governance. Terrorists and thieves have robbed them of hope for far too long. After years of suffering, all Lebanese deserve better. The task ahead is daunting, but we stand with Lebanon as it does the hard work to restore economic stability and basic services, including reliable electricity, health care, and education to get this country on a sustainable path and back to prosperity.

Today, in our meetings, we underscored the importance of complete transparency and open books as Lebanon re-engages with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank. The Lebanese people deserve to know where their money has gone and to have confidence in their economic future. We also urged prudence and accountability in the use of Lebanon’s more than a billion dollars in IMF Special Drawing Rghts. This money belongs to the Lebanese people and must be used for their benefit. We also underscored the importance of free and fair elections next spring, and we were energized in our meeting with civil society this morning by the excitement that we felt among them for the opportunity for the next generation of Lebanese leaders to help shape a positive future here.

We also, as we always do, confirmed our steadfast support for the Lebanese Army and Internal Security Forces. We acknowledge the vital role that they play in security and stability here and the very difficult task that they have. Today, I’m pleased to announce an additional $67 million dollars in new U.S. support for the Lebanese Army, bringing our total of support this year to $187 million dollars. We have also provided over $300 million dollars in humanitarian support to Lebanon this year.

Finally, in our meetings, we stressed that a clean, impartial, independent judiciary is the guarantor of all the rights and the values that we, as democracies, hold dear and share. Again, the Lebanese people deserve no less, and the victims and families of those lost in the port blast deserve no less. Today’s unacceptable violence makes clear what the stakes are. As the Lebanese people and government and leaders and civil society take the very difficult steps forward to bring stability, health, prosperity, and security back to this beautiful country, the American people, the American government stands with them. Thank you very much. I’m ready to take some questions.”