PARIS, FRANCE: France will provide 14 million euros' ($17 million) worth of aid to the Lebanese army, to include training and equipment such as anti-tank missiles, an official said on Thursday.
The aid is part of efforts to strengthen Lebanon's institutions and boost security amid growing internal political tensions.
The army, one of the few institutions not overtaken by the
sectarian divisions that plague Lebanon, has few resources to
deal with the instability on its border with Syria, and has been
seeking to modernise its hardware.
Lebanon was plunged into crisis in November when Prime
Minister Saad al-Hariri abruptly announced his resignation -
since withdrawn - thrusting his country to the forefront of a
regional tussle between the Sunni monarchy of Saudi Arabia and
Shi'ite Islamist Iran, whose Lebanese ally Hezbollah is part of
the Beirut government.
"The new Saudi leadership doesn't have the same relationship
with Lebanon as in the past and no longer wants to invest
billions in the country," the French official said.
"So we are in a phase where we are consolidating the
Lebanon's defence minister was in Paris on Thursday to
prepare the first of three conferences aimed at helping
different sectors in the country.
An event on March 15 in Rome is intended to support the
army, one on April 6 in Paris to aid the private sector, and
another on April 25 in Brussels to address the refugee issue.
Lebanon is currently hosting around 1.5 million Syrian
($1 = 0.8125 euros)
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