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World Council for the Cedars Revolution

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Oct 17th
Home arrow News Content arrow Blog arrow Blog Items arrow US and Western Governments arrow Hale: Time Needed to Have Capable Lebanese Army
Hale: Time Needed to Have Capable Lebanese Army PDF Print E-mail
Written by Dailystar, Naharnet, MMorning   
Friday, 17 October 2008

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BEIRUT: The United States' deputy assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs said in comments published Thursday that his country's administration was backing the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) "to protect the Lebanese, fight terror and implement UN Security Council Resolution 1701."

State Department official urges patience with Lebanese Army
Daily Star staff
Friday, October 17, 2008

BEIRUT: The United States' deputy assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs said in comments published Thursday that his country's administration was backing the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) "to protect the Lebanese, fight terror and implement UN Security Council Resolution 1701."

David Hale also told As-Safir newspaper's Washington correspondent that building a capable Lebanese Army would take time. Although he described members of the army as professional, he said the LAF had lacked funding. The US official added that the LAF was subject to a process of "Syrianization" in the past years.

He also spoke of "unrealistic Lebanese expectations concerning the speed for developing the military institution."

"For almost two decades the army lacked funding and equipment despite the fact that its elements maintained good professionalism," Hale said.

He said the joint military commission set up by the US and Lebanon earlier this month was "a type of cooperation reserved to few allies in the region."

A joint statement by the US Embassy in Beirut and the Lebanese Army said the commission will provide an annual opportunity to discuss military cooperation. It also said the two sides signed three new military contracts worth $63 million in US grants to the Lebanese Army to provide secure communications, ammunition and infantry weapons.

Hale dismissed reports that he would be making monthly visits to Beirut, adding that he would come when US Ambassador Michele Sison says the "time is ripe" for such a visit.

He told As-Safir that the US was awaiting results of consultations in Lebanon over what type of helicopters the LAF needed to fight "terrorism."

Meanwhile, a US government source said that US policy principles toward Lebanon would not change.

"The United States does not intend to enter into the details of political life in Lebanon at this stage," the source said in remarks also published by As-Safir on Thursday.

"At this stage in time this is unsuitable for us and will not necessarily help us in achieving our goals," he added.

The source affirmed that his country's government continues to "support forces of peace and moderation," adding that this is not exclusive to one group only but is extended to "a majority of Lebanese that share the same beliefs."

The source described the events of early May, when Hizbullah and its allies briefly took over swathes of mostly Sunni western Beirut after a Cabinet decision to dismantle the resistance's private communications network, "as leading to presidential elections and bringing life to constitutional institutions as well as prompting a new US approach."

"What Washington is doing now is what March 14 [Forces] want - to build a free Lebanon via its institutions," the source told As-Safir.

The source added that the US was "following up on" Democratic Gathering leader Walid Jumblatt's positions, saying that the politician was "still focusing on the general objectives and did not deviate from them." Since May, Jumblatt, a March 14 stalwart, worked hard to secure reconciliation with opposition factions.

According to the source, the US does not discuss "detailed issues" with Lebanese officials as before, but rather what he dubbed "common goals."

Commenting on the upcoming US presidential elections, the source said regardless of who the next US president may be "the US has worked one administration after another toward building peace in the Middle East."

"We all see Lebanon as an important arena for building peace and defeating extremist forces that are attempting to hinder us from achieving security and stability," the source said. "I do not expect any setback in our efforts in Lebanon. The administration will continue with its work till its last day. There is a transition period. However, I am convinced that we shall carry on with our efforts." - The Daily Star

http://www.dailystar.com.lb/article.asp?edition_id=1&categ_id=2&article_id=96869

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Hale: Time Needed to Have Capable Lebanese Army

The U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state for near eastern affairs has said the U.S. administration was backing the Lebanese army to protect the people, fight terror and implement U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701.

David Hale also told As Safir newspaper's Washington correspondent in remarks published Thursday that building a capable Lebanese army would take time.

Although he described members of the army as professional, he said the military lacked funding in the past years.

The U.S. official stated that the army was subject to a process of "Syrianization" during that period.

He also spoke of "unrealistic Lebanese expectations concerning the speed for developing the military institution."

Hale pointed that "for two decades the army lacked funding and equipment despite the fact that its elements maintained good professionalism."

His remarks were translated into English by Naharnet.

He said the joint military commission set up by the U.S. and Lebanon earlier this month is a type of cooperation reserved to few allies in the region.

A joint statement by the U.S. embassy in Beirut and the Lebanese army has said the commission will provide an annual opportunity to discuss military cooperation. It also said the two sides signed three new military contracts worth $63 million in U.S. grants to the Lebanese army for secure communications, ammunition and infantry weapons.

Hale denied he would make monthly visits to Beirut, adding that he would come to Lebanon when U.S. ambassador Michele Sison says time is ripe for such a visit.

He told As Safir that the U.S. was awaiting results of consultations in Lebanon over what type of helicopters the Lebanese army needs to fight terrorism.

Hale also reiterated there would be no change in U.S. policy towards Syria. 

Beirut, 16 Oct 08, 08:43

http://www.naharnet.com/domino/tn/NewsDesk.nsf/0/A7A81B8B8A87CAA3C22574E4001ED1BF?OpenDocument

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Hale: Military aid to Lebanon

US military aid to Lebanon and the strengthening of its ability to combat terrorism, as well as the deployment of Syrian troops along the frontier with North Lebanon, were at the heart of the talks between David Hale, deputy US secretary of State for Asia and the Near East, and Lebanese officials. The American diplomat reiterated his government’s support for Lebanon.

“Washington’s policy towards Lebanon has not changed. The United States supports Lebanon, free, sovereign and independent, far from any external interference. In the same way, we also firmly support the full application of UN Security Council resolutions 1701 and 1559”, Hale said following his meeting with President Michel Sleiman.

According to a communiqué issued by the Presidency, the meeting between the president and the American diplomat focused on “strengthening cooperation between Lebanon and the United States on the political and military levels. Hale gave President Sleiman an account of his talks in Lebanon, in particular the meeting held in Yarzé, during which a calendar of American aid to the Lebanese Army was laid down”.

Hale stressed to reporters of the joint Lebanese-American military commission on which the two countries had agreed and whose purpose was to boost the effectiveness of the Lebanese Army, especially in combating terrorism, in accordance with a calendar. “This type of cooperation is being established between us for the first time. It’s a new aspect of our long-term cooperation, a kind of military partnership in the face of the challenges we both face from terrorism, which is trying to destabilize Lebanon, and in favor of the application of Resolution 1701”, he said.

Hale continued: “We also support the progress made in the full implementation of the Doha Agreement, including the national dialogue, the reconciliations and the preparations for the legislative elections next year”.

Hale then visited House Speaker Nabih Berri and later with Prime Minister Fuad Saniora.

Describing as “excellent” his talks with the speaker, Hale affirmed that their conversation had focused on “the need for the development of democracy” in Lebanon and ways of consolidating bilateral relations between the two countries. He once more reiterated that Washington’s policy in regard to Lebanon had not changed.

With Saniora Hale discussed the mechanism of the joint military commission the two countries had agreed to. He also welcomed the Doha Agreement and said he was agreeably impressed with the change in the Lebanese political atmosphere.

The US official met with Interior Minister Ziad Baroud, MP Michel Murr and Dr. Ghattas Khoury. Following his talks with Hale, Murr said he understood that the American position towards Lebanon would not change, whatever the result of the US presidential election might be.

Concerning the massive deployment of Syrian troops along the North Lebanon border, Murr told reporters there was nothing to fear. “Our viewpoints on this subject are in agreement. The Americans are convinced that the Syrian military concentrations have no offensive purpose”, he said.

After meeting with former Deputy House Speaker Elie Ferzli, Hale traveled to Meerab, where he conferred for an hour with Samir Geagea, leader of the Lebanese Forces, who later told journalists that he had raised with Hale the matter of the Syrian troop deployments, as well as recent statements by Syrian President Bashar Assad on the subject of Sunnite fundamentalists in North Lebanon.

“I told Mr. Hale that North Lebanon is not Kandahar and that even if extremist elements were implanted there, the Army is able to eradicate it alone”.

Hale continued his visits to Lebanese politicians with a call on former President Amin Gemayel, supreme leader of the Kataeb Party, at the party’s headquarters in Beirut, and MP Walid Jumblatt, head of the Progressive Socialist Party, at his home in Moukhtara.

Hale, who was accompanied on all his calls by US Ambassador Michele Sison, told reporters after meeting Gemayel and attending the Kataeb Party’s weekly meeting that the US supported national dialogue among Lebanon’s rival political parties. He added that next year’s parliamentary elections represented a chance for the Lebanese people to “choose their representatives freely”.

http://www.mmorning.com/ArticleC.asp?Article=6248&CategoryID=2

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