BEIRUT: The political cover provided by the International Support Group for Lebanon allows the Army to benefit from the $3 billion Saudi grant by acquiring heavy arms, President Michel Sleiman said Tuesday.
“The $3 billion Saudi grant comes in line with the decisions of the International Support Group to Lebanon; there is wide political cover to arm the Lebanese Army,” Sleiman said during a ceremony to distribute Lebanese Excellency Awards.
“No one can any longer say that Lebanon is prevented from having rockets because they will be fired at Israel, or given away to militias,” he said.
Sleiman said that a committee should be formed to follow up on the Saudi grant, which allows the Army to buy military equipment from France. This committee should also work to get more funds for the military, he added.
The ISGL was created in New York last year on the sidelines of the United National General Assembly to support the country’s national institutions and Army and to help Lebanon deal with the influx of Syrian refugees to the country.
Sleiman also reiterated that the controversial policy statement should be drafted in the same spirit as the Baabda Declaration, an agreement between Lebanese rivals to distance Lebanon from regional turmoil, particularly the Syria crisis.
“The ministerial statement should be written with the ink of the national consensus and the same ink that the Baabda Declaration was drafted with,” Sleiman said.“Some parties agreed to the Baabda Declaration but then retreated from it."
“The Baabda Declaration serves the National Pact and [national] independence, and we did not respect what we agreed on in Parliament, in the Dialogue, or in the presidential palace,” Sleiman added. “As officials, we should apologize for that to the Lebanese people.”