Lebanon is set to receive a new grant to aid the Lebanese army from the United Arab of Emirates, media reports said on Monday.
The grants aim at bolstering the Lebanese army’s capabilities amid the rising security threats as the turmoil in war-torn neighboring Syria is spilling over into the country.
On Sunday, President Michel Suleiman announced that Saudi Arabia has pledged to grant Lebanon three billion dollars with the aim of purchasing French weapons for the Lebanese army as soon as possible.
The newspaper reported that Suleiman decided at the last minute to change his planned press conference on Sunday and replace it with a speech due to several developments, including the bellicose rhetoric of head of al-Mustaqbal Movement MP Fouad Saniora during ex-Finance Minister Mohammed Shatah's funeral.
Sources told al-Joumhouria newspaper published on Monday that Suleiman was seeking “to announce advanced stances over several matter” but the latest security and political developments prompted him to change his much-anticipated press conference at the Baabda Palace.
“Suleiman had to announce the Saudi grant on Sunday to coincide with the summit between French President Francois Hollande and King Abdullah in Riyadh.”
The president described it as “the biggest grant ever in the history of Lebanon.”
A March 8 source told An Nahar newspaper that “the Saudi grant is linked to the extension of Suleiman's mandate as Saudi Arabia aims at controlling the army to confront Hezbollah.”
Suleiman also revealed in his speech that another 1.6 billion dollars might be offered during an international meeting in Italy in 2014.
In December, Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta announced that his country is organizing an international conference in Rome to back the capabilities of the LAF in coordination with the United Nations and Lebanese authorities.
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