Lebanese Minister of Interior Nouhad Machnouk ended a three day visit to London today, accompanied by British Ambassador to Lebanon Hugo Shorter and a senior Lebanese delegation. Machnouk met with Minister for the Middle East Tobias Ellwood, Secretary of State Justine Greening, Home Office Minister John Hayes and National Security Advisor Mark Lyall Grant.
The visit enhanced bilateral ties between Lebanon and the UK and explored opportunities for co-operation on security and counter terrorism. In their discussions, Justine Greening and Minister Machnouk focused on support for Lebanon during the Syrian refugee crisis, and the follow-up work which the UK and Lebanon are undertaking after the London Conference in February.
In the meeting with Tobias Ellwood, the UK Minister for the Middle East discussed recent regional developments and reiterated that the UK is keen to see the election of a President and ready to work with any candidate agreed upon by the Lebanese.
Building on previous work by the UK Government with the ISF, the UK announced its intention to provide £13 million of additional funding for the Lebanese Internal Security Forces (ISF).
Building on previous work by the UK Government with the ISF, the additional funding will help build a modern professional police force. The money will go towards the building of police stations, spreading best practice in community policing, the embedding of human rights, and support to the Academy’s training programmes, with 8,000 officers graduating this year.
Foreign Office Minister Tobias Ellwood said:
The ISF plays a vital role for Lebanon’s security. This new funding will enhance its capabilities during a time of significant regional instability.
Minister Machnouk has a constructive plan to reform Lebanon’s police service and build a force to serve all Lebanese communities. It will become a regional example of international policing standards and respect for human rights.
This cooperation will enable Lebanon to manage the serious challenges it is facing, which include hosting more refugees as a percentage of the population than any country in the world, and the internal security challenges created by Daesh.
Lebanese Interior Minister Machnouk expressed his gratitude to the British Government for its commitment to provide additional funding to the Lebanese Internal Security Forces and said:
The support of the British Government to our security forces is an important indicator of trust and cooperation between the UK and Lebanon. We have a strategic plan to reform the ISF in order to better enable it to serve the interests of all the Lebanese through the enhancement of their trust in the law enforcement authorities.
Lebanon and the United Kingdom are each committed to facing one common enemy which is terrorism.
Our only choice is to continue to steadfastly combat terrorist security threats through increased training and the enhancement of the capabilities of our Internal Security Forces who are on the forefront in preserving the security of the Lebanese citizens.
British Ambassador Designate Hugo Shorter said:
I am delighted to witness another step forward in the partnership and friendship between the UK and Lebanon, as Minister Machnouk makes his first and successful visit to London. We commend the tireless efforts of the police officers of the Internal Security Forces under the leadership of Minister Machnouk.
Our support to Lebanon remains as resolute and strong as the country itself. The new announcement of £13million for additional funding to the ISF represents an investment by the UK government in Lebanon’s security services and their capabilities.