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Lebanon to start receiving French arms in April: Paris

AFP , Sunday 8 Feb 2015
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Views: 1118

The first deliveries of Saudi-funded French weapons to help Lebanon combat jihadists will begin in April, a spokesman for Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said Sunday.

Fabius confirmed the timeframe at a meeting with Lebanese Prime Minister Tammam Salam on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference, Romain Nadal told reporters.

Riyadh pledged $3 billion (2.65 billion euros) to fund the purchase of the French weapons, to include helicopter gunships, armoured personnel carriers, heavy artillery and surveillance drones, in December.

The military aid, which will allow the Lebanese army to modernise, will be supplied over the next three years.

Fabius and Salam also discussed the "political void" created by parliament's inability to pick a new president, a post that has been empty since last May.

They agreed on the "need for political officials to reach a compromise allowing a speedy election", Nadal said.

The two leaders also called for more EU humanitarian assistance to Lebanon, which is hosting more than 1.1 million Syrian refugees, many living in dire conditions in makeshift camps. About half of them are children.

The EU is expected to release one billion euros in new aid to address the crises in Syria and Iraq and the threat posed by the Islamic State group, part of which is earmarked for Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey.

The civil war raging in Syria, which in nearly four years has killed more than 210,000 people, has had a major security, economic and humanitarian impact on Lebanon.

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