Jordanian Prime Minister Ali Abu Ragheb is expected to arrive in Beirut Thursday for talks with his counterpart Rafiq Hariri on bilateral relations, the Mideast crisis and the issue of 50 Jordanian tanks donated to Lebanon, according to the London-based Arabic daily Asharq Al Awsat.
Abu Ragheb will convey a message from King Abdullah to the Lebanese President Emile Lahoud.
According to the paper, Jordan had sought the approval of the US to donate the tanks to Lebanon, which had urged the Arab countries to help upgrade its army.
On July 10, the Jordan Times reported that Jordan had requested US permission to hand over to Lebanon the 50 US-made tanks used by the Jordan Armed Forces.
Minister of Information Saleh Qallab was quoted as saying that the Jordanian pledge to present the tanks to Lebanon was made during a meeting between King Abdullah and President Emil Lahoud earlier this year.
"We are still awaiting the US reply to this request before we hand them over to our Lebanese brethren," the minister told the paper at that time.
"The Americans will have their own conditions before they give us the go-ahead to proceed in this plan," he added.
The minister said the agreement between Jordan and the US prevented the kingdom from handing over the tanks to a third party and compelled Jordan to seek the permission of Washington before taking such a step.
Qallab declined to reveal the make of the tanks, but the Jordan Armed Forces are believed to have various US-made armored vehicles such as the Patton-160, M-48 and M-60.
It was not clear if the US administration would make it a condition that these tanks could not be used in any military operation against Israel, said the paper.
Earlier, Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri told a gathering of businessmen in Beirut that Jordan had pledged to donate 60 tanks to the country, but indicated that the kingdom was seeking Washington's permission.
The US is a major weapons supplier to Jordan, which receives annual military assistance amounting to $175 million.
Amman has repeatedly urged the US to increase this aid - Albawaba.com
© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com )