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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

USAID Administrator Breakfast with LARP members

Press Release - November 12, 2007, Washington DC

LARP Breakfast 1Washington DC - The Honorable Henrietta Fore, USAID Administrator and Director of US Foreign Assistance, addressed members of the Lebanese American business community on Monday November 12, 2007 at a breakfast organized by the Lebanese American Renaissance Partnership (LARP) and hosted by its Vice President Haleem Zihenni at the New York Athletic Club.

Prominent public officials such as Ms. Caroline Ziade, Deputy Representative of Lebanon to the UN; Mr. Antoine Azzam, Consul General of Lebanon in New York; and the Honorable Jeanine Pirro, former District Attorney of Westchester County, heard Under Secretary Fore elaborate on recent USAID projects in Lebanon following the July 2006 war between Hezbollah and Israel.

Ms. Fore outlined President Bush’s commitment to help Lebanon’s economy and encouraged the private sector to support Public-Private Partnerships in the reconstruction of Lebanon. She endorsed LARP’s efforts in supporting the President’s initiative and to keep doing what they are doing on behalf of the United States and Lebanon.

LARP Breakfast 2Mr. Walid Maalouf, Director of Public Diplomacy at USAID, who accompanied Administrator Fore to New York, emphasized the importance of the Lebanese American small business community in the rebuilding of Lebanon and stressed that the best vehicle for them to do so is during the LARP II Conference in Lebanon scheduled in June 2008. Among the attendees was Dr. Jack Tohme, a physician from New York. He advocated, “that USAID needs to market its projects better inside Lebanon and among the Lebanese expatriates in order to raise awareness of its programs and funds available and to place more emphasis on educational assistance.” LARP Vice President Zihenni advocated much needed help in Lebanon’s public schools saying, “it is not enough to refurbish the schools with the help of USAID but that there is a need to have improvements in the curriculum, in hiring additional teachers, establishing a busing system and installing computer facilities in each public school in Lebanon.” Mr. Zihenni’s experience in improving public education in Lebanon is noteworthy. The Haleem Zihenni Foundation is assisting a public school in the North of Lebanon and in two years it presented substantial improvement. Its graduation rate advanced from 10% of the national average to above the national graduation rate, and the number of students that graduated grew from 40 students to 200 students. Ms. Fore strongly supported exploring a future partnership between USAID and NGOs in Lebanon to expand similar programs in other Lebanese public schools.

LARP’s mission is to support the Lebanese government’s institutions, to lift up the spirit of the Lebanese people and, in consultation with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) office in Beirut, to assist the private and public sectors to foster projects that help stimulate economic growth and provide possible donations in order to encourage local governments and enhance the sovereignty of Lebanon.