BEIRUT — A spokesperson for the United States Embassy in Lebanon on Friday denied reports by multiple Lebanese news outlets claiming the US threatened to withdraw its support to the Lebanese Army if no president was elected in October.
Several local media outlets reported earlier this week that, during a meeting of the Group of Five (France, United States, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Egypt) in New York, US Assistant Secretary of State Barbara Leaf threatened to stop US support to the Lebanese Army if no president was elected in October.
"Assistant Secretary of State Barbara Leaf did not say this," a US embassy spokesperson told L'Orient Today. "She was deliberately misquoted by actors in Lebanon who want to drive a wedge between the United States and our Lebanese partners."
Lebanon has been without a president since the term Michel Aoun's departure on Oct. 31, 2022.
"The United States remains fully committed to strengthening the capacity of the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) to secure Lebanon's borders, defend its sovereignty, and mitigate further instability, as we simultaneously press Lebanese officials to elect a president and implement reforms," the spokesperson added.
Washington is the biggest foreign aid donor to the Lebanese Army. Over the years, the US has provided millions of dollars of financial aid and military equipment to the army.
"The LAF is one of the only trusted, multi-sectarian state institutions in Lebanon, and it continues to play a critical role in mitigating further instability as the country weathers an ongoing and unprecedented economic crisis," the spokesperson added.
In June, the US Embassy in Beirut and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) announced they will begin distributing $55.5 million in temporary financial support to more than 70,000 Lebanese troops, with "eligible" servicemen to receive $100 per month for a period of six months.