France and Saudi Arabia sign $3bn weapons deal to arm Lebanese Army
France and Saudi Arabia have signed a $3bn agreement to provide weapon systems to the Lebanese Army.
The deal, which is the largest aid offered in Lebanon's history, was first announced in December and comes at a time when the Lebanese Army is battling jihadists in the north and at its border with Syria.
Without disclosing the type of weapons to be supplied, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said in a statement: "I welcome the signing of the contract to assist the Lebanese Army.
"This agreement, financed by a Saudi donation, will strengthen the Lebanese Army, which is the guarantor of the unity and stability of Lebanon."
He added that it will help the Lebanese armed forces to 'fulfil its mission to defend territory and in the fight against terrorism during a time at which Lebanon is threatened'.
AFP had quoted Lebanon's Army chief Jean Kahwaji as saying: "This battle requires equipment, material and technology that the army doesn't have."
Lebanon's Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri had announced a possible agreement after visiting King Abdullah in August, days after Islamist militants attacked and briefly seized the Lebanese border town of Arsal. Following this, Saudi Arabia gave $1bn to the army strengthen security.
A Saudi-owned pan-Arab daily, Al-Hayat, said the first arms shipment under the deal is expected to be delivered to Lebanon within a month.