Italy denies Lebanese weapons "veto"
Italy’s ambassador to Lebanon denied that the United States had 'vetoed' weapons bound for the Lebanese Army in remarks published Wednesday.
“Coordinating arms [supplies] is one of the goals of the [June] conference and one of the concerns of the international community to avoid unnecessary expenses,” Italian Ambassador Giuseppe Morabito told An-Nahar newspaper in remarks published Wednesday.
An-Nahar said Italy is preparing to host a diplomatic-military meeting Thursday to support the Lebanese Army. The meeting paves the way for a June conference also to be held in Italy.
Saudi Arabia has pledged $3 billion to bolster the Lebanese Army, which has not received advanced weapons in decades. The Saudi grant comes as the military faces mounting security challenges resulting from the civil war in neighboring Syria.
“The word ‘veto’ is not correct,” Morabito said in response to a question about some reports that the U.S. has banned the delivery of certain weapons. The U.S. maintains a policy that no Arab country should receive weapons that would give it a qualitative advantage over Israel.
“The issue is identifying the most appropriate weapons for Lebanon based on the needs of the Armed Forces in terms of safeguarding the country's sovereignty and independence, and in accordance with the terms for local and regional stability,” he explained.
Regarding Lebanese presidential elections, Morabito said Italy does not support any particular candidate.
“Electing a president is an issue of concern to 128 deputies in Parliament,” he said.