The top US military general met with the Lebanese Armed Forces commander on Thursday, with the Pentagon reaffirming its support for the Lebanese army.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley met with Gen. Joseph Aoun at the Pentagon, Joint Staff Spokesperson Col. Dave Butler said.
“Gen. Milley and other DoD [Department of Defense] officials reaffirmed the US Government’s strong support for the Lebanese Armed Forces,” Butler added.
Discussions touched on a range of issues, “including shared challenges and ways to increase coordination in areas of mutual interest.”
Pentagon Spokesperson Commander Jessica McNulty also said Aoun met with Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Dr. Mara Karlin.
“Dr. Karlin commended Gen. Aoun for the Lebanese Armed Forces’ (LAF) role in enabling Lebanon’s internal stability, in facilitating humanitarian efforts following the August 2020 Beirut Port Explosion, and in supporting Lebanon’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” McNulty said.
The Pentagon official also “praised the LAF’s key role as a widely respected institution, including representation from all of Lebanon’s 18 religious and ethnic groups.”
Talks also touched on the importance of respecting the right of Lebanese people to protest peacefully.
The LAF commander is in Washington as part of an annual trip to discuss bilateral ties with US officials and military generals. The US is the biggest supporter of the LAF, providing millions of dollars in aid and assistance per year.
Gen. Aoun met with White House officials, State Department officials and members of Congress this week. He is also scheduled to fly to Tampa to meet with US Central Command (CENTCOM) chief Gen. Frank McKenzie, according to sources familiar with his trip.
The State Department said military aid for Lebanon’s army was essential. “The Lebanese Armed Forces are an important actor in Lebanese society, and we have engaged partners in the region, not to intervene in Lebanon’s internal politics, but in an effort to help the people of Lebanon,” Spokesman Ned Price said during a briefing.
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