Lebanon's PM to discuss Saudi-funded weapons deal in Riyadh

Published November 9th, 2015 - 10:00 GMT
The first batch of Saudi-funded French arms was received with fanfare in Lebanon in April. (AFP/File)
The first batch of Saudi-funded French arms was received with fanfare in Lebanon in April. (AFP/File)

Prime Minister Tammam Salam will fly to Riyadh Tuesday to attend the 4th Summit of South American-Arab Countries, held once every three years and to discuss the latest developments related to a Saudi funded arms deal to equip the Lebanese Army. Defense Minister Samir Moqbel, Finance Minister Ali Hasan Khalil, and Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil will be accompanying Salam.

This summit is aimed at increasing South-South cooperation and implementing policy coordination measures through multilateral forums.

Brazil proposed to establish the conference in 2003, aiming to draw together leaders and civil societies from South American and Arab League member states to focus on diplomatic coordination and common issues of interest.

Moqbel is expected to follow up on the arms deal between Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, and France. The deal entails the provision of the Lebanese Army with French arms purchased using Saudi financing. It is estimated to be worth $3 billion.

The deal provides the Lebanese Army with much-needed modern arms as it attempts to secure Lebanon's borders from the deadly spillover of the Syrian civil war. The first batch was received in April.

As Salam welcomed visitors to his residence Sunday, he was apprehensive, anticipating the outcome of contacts pertaining to the garbage crisis and whether exporting waste would be a technically feasible option before a Cabinet session convenes in order to deliberate this solution.

The ongoing garbage crisis began after the closure of the Naameh landfill without securing a substitute.

Although Agriculture Minister Akram Chehayeb's plan was approved by the Cabinet, authorites were not able to implement it, with locals rejecting the establishment of landfills in their areas.

Citizens have taken to the streets in near-daily protests decrying the crisis and the state's inept response.

By Hasan Lakkis


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