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Commander of American Forces in Middle East Visits Beirut to Empower Lebanese Army | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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In this photo released by the Lebanese Government, Lebanese President Michel Aoun, right, meets with U.S. Central Command Chief Gen. Joseph Votel, center, and U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon Elizabeth Richard, left, at the Presidential Palace in Baabda, east of Beirut, Lebanon, Sunday, Dec. 18, 2016. Lebanese Government via AP Dalati Nohra

Beirut- The visit of Joseph Votel, the commander of American forces in the Middle East, to Beirut has reflected the US interest in supporting the Lebanese Army through arming and training programs as well as empowering it to face terrorist groups on the eastern border with Syria.

Votel met President Michel Aoun and they discussed US military aid. Later, he met with Prime Minister Saad Hariri in the presence of US Ambassador to Lebanon Elizabeth Richard where they also discussed the US military aid to the Lebanese Army.

Votel and Aoun discussions were centered on the military aid and the bilateral cooperation between the US-Lebanese armies.

Votel’s visit to Beirut falls within his tour in the Middle East that has already covered Iraq and Egypt in addition to meetings with leaders of Syrian Democratic Forces in north Syria.

“The US Commander affirmed the great fighting capability of the Lebanese Army and that Washington is content with the ongoing cooperation with the Lebanese Army,” sources said. They added that the US would boost its military aid and allocate a greater role for the training programs.

The US provides continuous military aid for the Lebanese Army within annual programs to assist its fight against terrorism in east Lebanon, where the army confronts ISIS.

Lebanese Politician George Alam put this visit under the serious determination to support the Lebanese Army in confronting challenges. He pointed out that it has several indications.

Alam told Asharq Al-Awsat that this is the first step taken by the US administration towards the Middle East, namely Lebanon. “Lebanon is a target of terrorism and there is a daily conflict with ISIS, making the army’s role essential in protecting the Lebanese border and maintaining stability,” he added.

Alam did not hide international concerns of ISIS sneaking in to Lebanon and Jordan following the defeats they suffered in Syria and Iraq.