Saudi gives $1 bn as Lebanon seeks arms to battle terrorists

Saudi gives $1 bn as Lebanon seeks arms to battle terrorists
Wed Aug 6, 2014 09:23:30

Saudi Arabia has given Lebanon's military $1 billion to help its fight against terrorists on the Syrian border, as the army's chief urged France to speed up promised weapons supplies.

Saudi Arabia has given Lebanon's military $1 billion to help its fight against terrorists on the Syrian border, as the army's chief urged France to speed up promised weapons supplies.

France said it would respond "quickly" to Lebanon's request to expedite weaponry.

Saudi Arabia has gone further and handed Lebanon's army $1 billion to strengthen security, former Lebanese premier Saad Hariri told reporters in Jeddah on Wednesday.

King Abdullah "has informed me of his generous decision to provide the Lebanese army... with $1 billion to strengthen its capabilities to preserve Lebanon's security," Hariri told reporters in Jeddah.

Speaking from King Abdullah's palace in the Saudi Red Sea city, Harriri -- the Lebanese Sunni community's most prominent political representative -- added that "we have received this aid".

"This aid is very important especially at this time when Lebanon is fighting terrorism," said Hariri at the overnight conference.

Saudi Arabia is already financing a $3 billion package of French military equipment and arms for Lebanon's army.
   
The fighting in Arsal is the worst violence to hit the volatile border region since the 2011 outbreak of the armed uprising in Syria against President Bashar al-Assad.

Speaking to AFP, Lebanon's Army Chief General Jean Kahwaji said the military was hamstrung in its fight against the al-Qaeda-linked terrorists.

"This battle requires equipment, materiel and technology that the army doesn't have," Kahwaji said.

"That's why we need to speed up the delivery of the necessary military aid by finalizing the list of weapons requested from France under a Saudi-financed deal."

In December, Riyadh agreed to finance the $3 billion package of French military equipment and arms for Lebanon's army.

And in mid-June, at a conference in Rome, the international community pledged its backing for the Lebanese military.

Details of what arms will be furnished have yet to be finalized.

France insisted on Tuesday that it stood behind the Lebanese army.

"France is fully committed to supporting the Lebanese army, a pillar of stability and unity in Lebanon," said Vincent Floreani, a foreign ministry spokesman.

"We are in close contact with our partners to quickly meet Lebanon's needs."

BA/BA

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