Tuesday, September 25, 2012

 Press Release: Ambassador Chatah’s visit to the U.S

Ambassador Mohamad Chatah, senior foreign policy advisor to former Prime Minister Saad Hariri concluded a week long visit to Washington at the invitation of the Aspen Institute where he participated in a panel discussion on Lebanese banking. He also met with US officials in the White House and the State Department concerning the situation in Lebanon and the region and gave a talk at the Wilson Center to a large group of Middle East experts and US officials.

Ambassador Chatah met at the White House with Senior Director of the Middle East at the National Security Council Mr. Steve Simon and director of Lebanon and Syria at the NSC Mr. Steve Conlon. He also met assistant Secretary of State for the Middle East Elizabeth Jones and the Special Envoy for the Middle East Fred Hoff. Ambassador Chatah was accompanied by the U.S advisor to Prime Minister Saad Hariri Dr. Amal Mudallali. The discussions focused on recent developments in and around Lebanon,  the threats to Lebanon’s security from the spillover of the situation in Syria and from Iran’s standoff with the international community, as well as means of protecting Lebanon from those threats.

The Middle East in Transition: A Lebanese Perspective", was the title of the talk Ambassador Chatah gave at the Wilson Center where he described the region as being in the "midst of a historic but turbulent transition…. where all the region's fault lines are in flux". After enumerating these fault lines he noted that " nowhere do they all collide together the way they do in Lebanon…. with potentially great ramifications for the country's security and internal peace. He described two important transitions taking place in the Middle Ease: a democratic transition and a transition within political Islam, both of which are beneficial for the region and for Lebanon in the long run. But the transition also carries many risks  for  Lebanon ". He addressed those risks and the policy debate within Lebanon and stressed that " …as an opposition our current  focus is to prevent Lebanon from being used again as a convenient theater by the Syrian and Iranian regimes or by any other party for that matter, at an enormous cost to the Lebanese people ".

At the Aspen Institute Ambassador Chatah participated in a panel on the Lebanese banking system along side Treasury Assistant Secretary Daniel Glaser and other banking experts. The discussion which was moderated by Jay Solomon of the Wall Street Journal was titled "Banking on Credibility: Lebanon's Financial Sector Amidst Sanctions and Regional Instability" and focused on the scrutiny that the financial sector has been under due to allegations of money laundering and financing of terrorism. Ambassador Chatah dispelled the claim that the health of Lebanon's banking sector was due to abuse and criminal activity. He explained the legitimate and inherent structural reasons for the sector’s resilience, and the conservative policies of the central bank and its regulatory bodies which were behind the sector’s success even in the time of international financial crisis.  He indicated that procedures have recently been tightened by the Central bank and that Lebanese banks are now required to conform to the laws and regulations governing their correspondent banks.  He considered the targeting of the Lebanese financial  system by certain lobbying groups in the US as politically motivated and that its real target was Iran. He did not discount that there had been specific cases of abuse, but stressed the Lebanese regulatory and enforcement bodies were working closely with their counterparts abroad to address them.

No comments:

Post a Comment