Remarks at the Meeting of the International Support Group for Lebanon

John Kerry
Secretary of State
United Nations
New York City
September 25, 2013

Thank you, Mr. Deputy Secretary General. And I want to thank Secretary General Ban for presiding over this, though he had to leave, and thank those who have helped to organize it. And I want to join in recognizing our dear friend President Sleiman, who deserves our praise and our support for being a tenacious advocate for Lebanon’s interests and stability under very difficult circumstances.

Everybody here knows that Lebanon has rarely faced such a daunting moment. And as we know, President Sleiman has worked tirelessly to disassociate Lebanon from the war in Syria, an effort that I think everyone here both understands and supports. But nevertheless, despite those efforts, we are deeply concerned by the rising number of terrorist attacks and security incidents inside Lebanon and with Hezbollah’s brazen intervention into the Syrian conflict, which contradicts its commitment to the Baabda Declaration. Regrettably, Hezbollah is obviously putting its own interests, its own ideology, its own external purposes above those of the well-being of the Lebanese people, in conjunction with external backers.

I want to commend the Lebanese Armed Forces for their extraordinary work to try to help keep the peace on behalf of all of Lebanon’s people. The United States has supported those efforts with $82 million in assistance this year, providing training and equipment to promote Lebanon’s unity and sovereignty. And just yesterday, as he met with President Sleiman, President Obama announced additional support for border security.

I join with others here to commend Lebanon for its remarkable efforts, which we’ve heard about, to provide for more than 800,000 refugees – a burden hard to describe to any country when you consider that this is a nation of just over 4 million people. Yesterday, President Obama added $74 million in humanitarian assistance to the 180 million that we have provided this year for host communities and refugees.

And as we heard from President Jim Kim, the World Bank has just completed its need assessment and identified the massive economic social impact on Lebanon’s communities as they support those who are fleeing violence. So I want to make it clear: The United States will continue to stand with President Sleiman and the Lebanese people as they struggle to meet these urgent needs. And today, I’m pleased to announce that we’re working with the Congress in order to provide an additional $30 million separate from the humanitarian assistance that was announced yesterday in order to meet immediate and community-level needs.

We also need to work together – all of us – to support Lebanon’s economy, as President Kim has discussed, as it absorbs the strains of this conflict in Syria. For our part, the United States has committed $61.2 million in economic and development assistance this year alone. And as the nation continues to confront its challenges with courage and resolve, we will remain committed to trying to strengthen Lebanon’s civil society.

My friends, everyone here knows that some of these difficulties have deeper roots than the present conflict in Syria. Many obligations set forth in Security Council Resolutions 1701 and 1559 remain unfulfilled. And until the Government of Lebanon is in full control of its territory, unnecessary risks to its stability will remain. The state of Lebanon and its security institutions must gain the means to control Lebanese territory and borders, must have a monopoly of arms, and be accountable to all Lebanese citizens. And we are prepared to be partners with all Lebanese who share that vision.

The United States urges Lebanon’s various political factions to focus now on forming a responsible government. This is, and must be, a Lebanese process that reflects the aspirations of the Lebanese people.

And it is important today that our friendship with Lebanon for all of us be expressed not in words alone. We have to show our commitment with actions that support a sovereign, secure, and prosperous Lebanon. That’s part of the commitment the President upped yesterday with the additional funds, and we will continue to do our part to guarantee that the future the Lebanese people deserve and the future that we forge together is made a reality.

Thank you. (Applause.)

PRN: 2013/2186