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LARP II Delegates with His Excellency the President of Lebanon General Michel Sleiman

LARP II Delegates With Governor Riad Salameh of the Central Bank of Lebanon

LARP I Delegates with Minister Haddad Representing the Prime Minister of Lebanon

LARP Members visit Congress & Administration

Press Release - February 20, 2007  , Washington DC

Members from the Lebanese American Renaissance Partnership (LARP) convened in Washington on Friday, February 16, 2007 to meet with Congressional leaders and Administration officials at the United States Agency for International Development. LARP also announces its 2007 renaissance trip to Lebanon in November 9-10, 2007. More details of the two-day conference in Beirut will be communicated soon. 

The delegation visited the U.S. Agency for International Development and received briefings organized by the office of Public Diplomacy for Middle Eastern and MEPI Affairs. Discussions included the status of the Stockholm funding provided by the Bush Administration last year.  That culminated in providing over $230 million in U.S. assistance to various projects to help the people of Lebanon recover from the effects of the July War. Some of those projects included providing over 25,000 metric tons of wheat to the people of Lebanon, completing the oil spill cleanup along the Lebanese coast and rehabilitating public schools and health clinics. In addition, the discussions between the leadership of USAID and the LARP indicated the need for additional training on applying for grants within the framework of USAID. 

Furthermore, the Lebanese American Renaissance Partnership shared their concerns with the offices of Senator Joseph Biden (D-DE), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN), Ranking Minority Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; and two members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Congressmen Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI) and Ted Poe (R-TX). 

“These high level meetings are crucial for us to show our support for President Bush’s proposal in this year’s budget to increase funding for the reconstruction of Lebanon by $770 million,” said George Kanaan of Ohio.  “We shared our hopes and concerns about the future of Lebanon in order to give strength to the President’s support for the people of Lebanon.” 

According to Dr. Sam Wakim of California, “It is in the United States’ best interest to enhance and strengthen a solid US-Lebanon relationship while we are confronting our enemies in the War on Terror.  By providing economic assistance and business training, we can make significant progress in our efforts there.” 

“Unfortunately for our families in Lebanon, our homeland is a battleground in this War and Iran and its allies are not interested in living in peace,” stated Mazen Skaf of California. “Our President’s proposal to expand economic aid to Lebanon is the right thing to do both for its immediate benefits as well as a long term investment in the people of Lebanon.” 

Haleem Zihenni of New York added, “We Lebanese Americans in the United States are committed to providing entrepreneurs and small businesspeople in Lebanon the tools and resources they need to succeed.  This proposal by the President will go a long way to improve the lives of the Lebanese people by creating job opportunities, consequently increasing much needed goodwill in that part of the world.” 

The Bush Administration’s proposal to add $770 million to economic aid in Lebanon was made public at the Paris III donor’s conference last month.  Over $7.6 billion was pledged to the people of Lebanon in the form of loans and grants from a wide range of donors. 

“Supporting the Lebanese people by upgrading their Army’s equipment and training is vitally necessary to stabilize the Government of Lebanon,” remarked Habib Debs of Virginia. In addition, the group requested that tax incentives and other economic programs be proposed at the Congressional level. 

“Whatever we can do to improve the economic conditions in Lebanon will go a long way to stabilizing the nation,” says Dean Atallah of New Jersey.  “Now that we have reached a mutual agreement with TIFA, Lebanon is on the right path to entering a Free Trade Agreement with the United States.” 

The US-Lebanon TIFA, or Trade and Investment Framework Agreement, was signed in November last year and emphasizes the importance of trade relations between the two countries.  “It laid the groundwork to promote an attractive investment climate and expand trade in products and services,” according to Charlie Aoun of California. 

Furthermore, the delegation emphasized the importance of having the United Nations proceed with the International tribunal created after the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. “It is time to bring the perpetrators of this horrible crime to justice,” continued Kanaan. 

LARP is an initiative of successful Lebanese American business, entrepreneurs and community leaders diverse in their skills and geographical location around the United States committed to making their collective experience and their extensive networks available to link between Lebanese entrepreneurs and their United States emigrant counterparts.