Report: France Seeks to Reactivate Saudi Grant to Lebanese Army

French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault will pay a visit to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in a bid to reactivate the Saudi grant to arm the Lebanese army, al-Joumhouria daily reported Friday.

Ayrault explained, during his meeting with senior Lebanese officials on Thursday, his quest to reactivate the $3 billion grant of advanced French weapons manufactured in his country.

He said the French president’s directions were clear and assertive to exert the efforts needed in that regard, added the daily.

Ayrault notified the officials that he will soon be in Riyadh for that end.

The French FM met on Thursday with President Michel Aoun, PM Saad Hariri and Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil.

In February 2016 Saudi Arabia halted a $3 billion program for military supplies to Lebanon in protest against Hizbullah’s policies and diplomatic stances by the Lebanese foreign ministry.

The $3 billion program financed military equipment provided by France.

Lebanon received the first tranche of weapons designed to bolster its army against jihadist threats, including anti-tank guided missiles, in April 2015 but the program then reportedly ran into obstacles.

Alleged leaders of Hizbullah are under sanctions by Saudi Arabia.

Hizbullah is supported by Saudi Arabia’s regional rival Iran, with whom relations have worsened this year.

Riyadh cut diplomatic ties with Tehran in January after demonstrators stormed its embassy and a consulate following the Saudi execution of a prominent Saudi Shiite cleric and activist.