France announced Friday that it is holding “close dialogue” with Beirut and Riyadh to press for the resumption of a Saudi-funded program for equipping the Lebanese army in the wake of the election of a new president in Lebanon.
“The Donas deal caters to the current needs of the Lebanese Armed Forces… and we hope it will be implemented for the sake of security in Lebanon,” French foreign ministry spokesman Romain Nadal said at a press conference.
“We are holding close dialogue with Lebanon and Saudi Arabia in this regard,” Nadal added, reminding of “the threats that Lebanon is facing in an unstable region.”
Saudi Arabia said in February that it had halted a $3 billion program for military supplies to Lebanon in protest against Hizbullah’s policies and “hostile” diplomatic stances by the Lebanese foreign ministry “resulting from the stranglehold of Hizbullah on the State.”
The Lebanese army received the first tranche of weapons designed to bolster it against jihadist threats, including anti-tank guided missiles, in April 2015 but the program then reportedly ran into obstacles.
The Donas program was to ship armored vehicles, helicopters, drones, cannons and other equipment to Lebanon.