France to finalize arms deal with Lebanon, Saudi Arabia Wednesday
France is planning to finalize its multi-billion arms deal with Lebanon and Saudi Arabia Wednesday, according to Reuters.
The so-called International Support Group for Lebanon is scheduled to meet in Paris Wednesday where delegates are planning to finalize the France-Saudi Arabia-Lebanon arms deal and garner support for nearly 1 million Syrian refugees displaced in Lebanon.
Representatives from the five permanent U.N. member states of the Security Council-France, United States, Russia, Britain and China-are scheduled to be in attendance, along with other delegates from the MENA region.
Saudi Arabia is sponsoring the French arms deal with its donation of $3 billion in December for "upgrades to the Lebanese army." France has been requested to provide the weaponry under the deal, including communications gear, helicopters, tans, and long-range anti-tank missiles.
Security Council counterparts have not publicly said if they will offer funding or support as well, but Washington has previously provided support to the Lebanese military.
The Lebanese economy has taken a significant downturn due to in-country violence as well as due to the war in neighboring Syria. Over 4 million Syrian refugees have been displaced in Lebanon, and the World Bank has estimated that Beirut needs nearly $2.6 billion just to hand the refugee situation over the next three years. However, internal sectarian violence has made Western powers and other tentative donors "reluctant" to provide aid to the MENA country in any form.
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