BEIRUT: Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri held additional talks with officials Saturday to discuss Saudi aid to Lebanon, working to quickly implement a mechanism to distribute the $1 billion grant to boost Lebanese security.
The Future Movement leader held talks with Army commander Gen. Jean Kahwagi aimed at “completing the implementation of the Saudi donation to support the needs of the army and security forces in carrying out their tasks in fighting terrorism and in [maintaining] the security and stability of the country” a statement from Hariri’s office said..
The Future Movement leader met with Prime Minister Tammam Salam and Environment Minister Mohammad Machnouk earlier Saturday, overseeing talks over the kingdom’s donation to the Army and methods of employing the new funding.
The Saudi grant is aimed at boosting the capabilities of Lebanese security forces to combat terrorism, and came after five days of clashes with Syrian rebels in the northeastern Lebanese town of Arsal. Those clashes left at least 19 Lebanese soldiers dead, and represent the most serious spillover yet of Syria's more than 3-year-old civil war.
Meanwhile, An-Nahar reported that Hariri would not be putting forward any new candidate for the presidential election, which has dragged out after 10 failed Parliament sessions to elect a successor to Michel Sleiman, whose term ended May 25.
Hariri is willing to facilitate elections as long as efforts are reciprocated by opposing political factions, however, “Hariri would not propose any candidate and would wait for what Christians decide in that regard," it said.
Hariri, who arrived in Beirut Friday in a surprise return to the country after a little over three years of self-imposed exile due to security concern, said he returned to oversee the spending of the Saudi grant that Riyadh announced last week.