Source: DTN News - compiled by Roger Smith from reliable sources including The Daily Star(NSI News Source Info) BEIRUT, Lebanon - June 28, 2010: France has promised to provide Lebanon with modern weapons, the National News Agency (NNA) reported on Wednesday.
During a meeting with Lebanese Defense Minister Elias Murr, his French counterpart Hervé Morin stressed France’s support to supply the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) with modern weapons.
According to the NNA, discussions tackled how to enhance bilateral military cooperation and the delivery of Gazelle helicopters equipped with HOT missiles and 20 millimeter guns.
Morin last month vowed to equip the LAF with Gazelle helicopters after talks with Premier Saad Hariri, President Michel Sleiman and Murr in Beirut.
At the time, Morin said Paris was confident any military donations given to Lebanon would be properly managed.
Western states have often said they fear sophisticated weapons delivered as aid to the Lebanese state could find their way to Hizbullah, who might use them against Israel.
Israel has repeatedly accused Syria and Iran of smuggling weapons to Hizbullah. Tensions peaked last month when Tel Aviv claimed Scud missiles had been delivered to Hizbullah by Damascus. It has not, however, substantiated its claims with proof. Israel has also warned that the delivery of sophisticated weaponry to Hizbullah would alter the balance of power and threaten regional stability. Beirut and Damascus have denied the weapons shipment.
Earlier this month, Russian officials met with Murr and announced Moscow would deliver MI-24 attack helicopters to Lebanon before the end of 2010. The helicopters are a substitute for 10 MIG 29 fighter jets that were originally to be donated to Lebanon. The Lebanese-Russian deal also included providing the LAF with tanks and other weapons, but excluded anti-aircraft missiles.
After his meeting with Murr in Moscow, head of the Russian Federal Committee for Military Cooperation Mikhail Dmitriev said “military cooperation between Lebanon and Russia should not threaten a third state but be a guarantee to security between our states and under the legal umbrella of the UN.”
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