Washington - Congressman Howard L. Berman, chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today released the following statement on lifting a hold on military assistance to Lebanon:
"On August 2, I placed a hold on a $100 million spending plan for military assistance for the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) out of concern that this plan did not reflect changing political realities in Lebanon. The following day, August 3, a shooting initiated by the LAF on its southern border, resulting in the needless death of an Israeli soldier, further complicated the situation; Israeli restraint prevented that situation from getting out of hand.
"In response to our hold, the Administration initiated a thorough, inter-agency review of its military assistance program for Lebanon. I have been fully briefed, in a classified setting, on the results of that review. As a result, I am convinced that implementation of the spending plan will now have greater focus, and I am re-assured as to the nature and purposes of the proposed package. I also understand that the LAF has taken important steps to prevent recurrence of dangerous and provocative actions like that which occurred August 3. I have also been given reason for confidence that assistance to the LAF has not fallen into the hands of Hezbollah and that every possible measure is being taken by Lebanese and American authorities to prevent that from happening. As a result of these assurances, I am lifting the hold on the $100 million spending plan for the LAF.
"I continue to be concerned about developments in Lebanon, and I will continue my ongoing discussions with State regarding the optimal contours of future military assistance for Lebanon. Some of the key elements of the current package are not yet ready for actual delivery to the LAF and will be further notified to Congress prior to actual delivery. We will, of course, further assess the situation at that time."