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$3bn Kingdom aid to bolster Lebanon Army

BEIRUT: Saudi Arabia has pledged $3 billion for the Lebanese Army to buy equipment from France, Lebanese President Michel Suleiman announced on Sunday.
The Kingdom “decided to provide generous assistance to Lebanon in the form of $3 billion for the Lebanese Army to strengthen its capabilities,” Suleiman said, adding that it was the largest assistance provided in Lebanon’s history.
The aid pledge comes amid mounting sectarian tension in Lebanon related to the war in neighboring Syria.
Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement is fighting alongside President Bashar Assad’s forces against an uprising. Suleiman said the money would be used to buy weapons from France, pointing to the “historical ties that link it to Lebanon and the depth of the military cooperation between the two countries.”
Suleiman did not specify what weapons would be purchased.
Lebanon’s armed forces are woefully under-equipped and face multiplying security challenges, underlined by the bomb attack on Friday and rockets fired from Lebanon into Israel on Sunday that prompted return fire from the Jewish state.
The armed forces are responsible for domestic security as well as national defense, and contain members from across Lebanon’s multisectarian population.
Ex-Prime Minister Saad Hariri welcomed the Saudi pledge and said it came as part of a project to impose state control.

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