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U.S. official welcomes Russian military assistance to Lebanon
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11:08, December 21, 2008

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Visiting U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Hale has expressed a welcome to Russian military aid to the Lebanese army, saying it's a proof of strong support by the international community to Lebanon, local As-Safir daily reported Saturday.

Hale made the remarks to reporters following his meeting with Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Seniora, in response to a Russian announcement on Wednesday that it will donate to the Lebanese army10 MIG-29 fighter jets.

The U.S. plans to deliver M-60 tanks to Lebanon in spring 2009 as a part of its commitment to help the Lebanese army, Hale was quoted as saying, denying the existence of competition between the U.S. and Russia.

He told the reporters that "our support to the Lebanese army will remain a major issue in our policy towards Lebanon," adding that the U.S. is working to "provide training and equipment to the Lebanese army" to maintain internal stability and combat terrorism in the Arab country.

The U.S. has given 410 million U.S. dollars in military aid to the Lebanese army since 2006, which, however, was limited to light weapons and vehicles.

Also on Friday, Hale met with Lebanese President Michel Suleiman and promised to continue U.S. support for Lebanon, calling for implementation of UN Resolution 1701 aimed at ensuring stability and combating terrorism in Lebanon.

He, meanwhile, stressed Washington's support for the International Tribunal that would try suspects in the assassination of Lebanon's former prime minister Rafic Hariri in 2005.


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