why the hell would we be giving them money?
BEIRUT: The US will grant $267 million in military aid to Lebanon, said Defense Minister Elias Murr on Friday during his visit to Washington.
Murr held several meetings with American officials, including US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, who handed him a letter confirming the American administration’s support for the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and its plans to donate $267 million as new and immediate military aid.
“We discussed arming the LAF and I received an official letter offering new aid of $267 million to be given immediately and according to the program prepared by the LAF and to the joint program concerning training and equipment,” Murr said following the meeting.
Lebanese newspaper As-Safir published on Friday that the United States had also expressed its readiness to hand Lebanon military aircraft by the year 2013 with the aim of reinforcing the LAF’s air exploration missions.
The newspaper added that the Pentagon offered Lebanon two types of attack planes: Hawker-Beechcraft AT-6 and Embraer Super Tocano but that the LAF would have to abide by the schedule of the American administration in order to receive these aircrafts without any charge.
Murr’s visit to Washington began earlier this week, his third in 10 months, and aimed at discussing American military assistance to Lebanon.
It also coincided with the assembly of the joint Lebanese-US military committee.
The minister also visited the White House several times and met with US President Barack Obama’s adviser for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism John Brennan, and national security adviser for the vice president, Tony Blinken.
Murr discussed with Brennan the security measures the US recently imposed on Lebanese travelers and stressed the need to put an end to them. Brennan was “understanding” about the matter and promised to “reconsider” it, according to Murr.
In December 2009, the United States decided to take a series of security measures at its airports, including tougher screening for airline passengers flying into US airports from or via 14 countries.
The decision came after a failed attempt to blow up a plane bound for Detroit and Lebanon was one of the countries it mentioned.
Murr also held meetings with US envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell, Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs Jeffry Feltman as well as Obama’s Middle East adviser Daniel Shapiro and opened the meetings of the joint military committee.
The Lebanese official had also been scheduled to meet with United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to discuss the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701, however their talks were cancelled because of the severe weather conditions. – The Daily Star