BEIRUT: Lebanese Army General Jean Kahwagi headed to Riyadh Saturday to finalize the Saudi grant of $3 billion in military equipment, President Michel Sleiman said.
“Kahwagi headed today to Saudi Arabia to sign the deal between the Lebanese Army, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the French Army, so that the grant can be put into effect,” Sleiman said, during a ceremony that laid the foundation of a public hospital in Deir al-Ahmar.
Sleiman, whose term expires on May 25, said he would help his successor to implement the Baabda Declaration, draft the national defense strategy and arm the military.
This is Kahwagi's second visit to Saudi Arabia this year following up on the grant, which will help the Army buy needed weapons, though on the condition that they are purchased exclusively from France.
Sleiman has said that "political cover," provided by the International Support Group for Lebanon (ISGL), would allow the Army to benefit from the grant by acquiring heavy arms.
The ISGL was created in New York last year as a side group of the United Nations General Assembly, whose goal is to support the country’s national institutions and Army, and to help Lebanon deal with the influx of Syrian refugees to the country.