France, Saudis in $3b Deal to Arm Lebanon

France, Saudis in $3b  Deal to Arm LebanonFrance, Saudis in $3b  Deal to Arm Lebanon

Saudi Arabia and France signed an agreement on Tuesday to provide $3 billion of French military weapons to Lebanon, AP reported.

The deal, first announced in December, aims to boost Lebanon's military as it struggles to contain a rising tide of violence linked to the civil war in neighboring Syria.

There were no immediate details on what weapons systems would likely be delivered under the agreement, or when Lebanon would receive them.

"I welcome the signing of the contract to assist the Lebanese army," French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said in a statement.

"This agreement, financed by a Saudi donation, will strengthen the Lebanese army, which is the guarantor of the unity and stability of Lebanon."

He added that it will also help Lebanon's military "fulfill its mission to defend territory and in the fight against terrorism during a time at which Lebanon is threatened."

There was no immediate comment from Saudi Arabia or Lebanon. But the Lebanese military said Monday that army commander Gen. Jean Kahwaji was traveling to the kingdom for the signing ceremony.

The agreement was signed in Riyadh by Saudi finance minister Ibrahim al-Assaf and Edouard Guillaud, the head of the ODAS organization set up by France to export defence equipment.