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Published:January 25th, 2007 05:01 EST
Rice Announces $770 Million U.S. Pledge for Lebanon

Rice Announces $770 Million U.S. Pledge for Lebanon

By SOP newswire

Washington -- Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the United States will pledge nearly $770 million in direct U.S. assistance to Lebanon ahead of the January 25 donors’ conference in Paris. Rice made that statement to reporters traveling with her on January 24, the State Department confirmed to USINFO.

Earlier in the day, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said assistance from the U.S. government will be accompanied by investment commitments by the U.S. private sector.

“[O]ur job as an international system and our job as a country,” he said, is to stand with the Lebanese people and make clear the U.S. support for their efforts to have “a more stable, prosperous state.”

The upcoming donors’ conference will yield “real physical effects on the ground,” by helping Lebanon rebuild its country and infrastructure.  “[Y]ou shouldn't just look at the Lebanon donors’ conference as people making pledges and signing checks,” McCormack said.

The United States already has pledged approximately $250 million to Lebanon, as well as additional private-sector investment ahead of the conference.   (See related article.)

In supporting the democratically elected government of Prime Minister Fuad Siniora, the Bush administration also wants to “make it clear to those forces of violent extremism that we are going to stand in their way.”

The donors’ conference makes “an important political and diplomatic statement,” because it demonstrates the international community’s support for “what Prime Minister Siniora and his government is trying to do on behalf of the Lebanese people,” he said.

Rice will be accompanied in Paris by the chief executive officers of some U.S. businesses who will discuss private-sector investments in Lebanon.

“[L]ong after U.S. government assistance and other direct government assistance has been pledged and delivered and had its effect, those kinds of foreign investments on the ground are going to have continuing effects and you're going to get a multiplier effect through job creation and building up industries,” McCormack said.  The U.S. private sector also has made similar investments in countries such as Pakistan to help its recovery after a devastating earthquake in 2004.

He said Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Karen Hughes and Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs Dina Powell have been “deeply involved” in the public-private partnership to encourage assistance.  Powell is accompanying Secretary Rice to the donors’ conference.

McCormack said the partnership is a “terribly important” component of the overall U.S. commitment “to helping these countries that are really fighting against the forces of violent extremism around the world.”

For additional information, see Lebanon Assistance.

(USINFO is produced by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)

By Stephen Kaufman
USINFO Staff Writer