Lebanon rules out any conditional US aid to army

Lebanon criticised moves by U.S. lawmakers to block aid for the military.

Lebanon rules out any conditional US aid to army

 

Lebanon criticised on Wednesday moves by U.S. lawmakers to block aid for the military over allgations that it was working closely with Hezbollah which protected Lebanon during Israeli attacks in 2006.

Defence Minister Elias al-Murr told reporters any party that wished to help the military had to do so without conditions.

"That person who said in Congress, 'I will stop aid to the army', he is free to do so ... Anyone who wants to help the army without restrictions or conditions, is welcome," Murr said.

"This person wants to make military aid conditional on not protecting (Lebanon's) land, people and borders against Israeli aggression. Let them keep their money or give it to Israel. We will confront (Israel) with the capabilities we own."

Israel complained to the United States and France about funds to the Lebanese army after a skirmish killed a senior Israeli officer, two Lebanese soldiers and a Lebanese journalist in the worst border violence since a 2006 Israeli war on Hezbollah.

The Lebanese army said it first fired warning shots, then Israelis fired at their soldiers. Israeli artillery and tank fire followed.

Lebanese President Michel Suleiman launched an initiative to build up the underequipped army, prompting Iran, which supports Lebanon's militant Shi'ite group Hezbollah, to offer support.

The United States has provided more than $720 million in assistance to the army since 2006 to Lebanon.

In Congress, a senior House Republican, Eric Cantor, said the lines between Hezbollah, the Lebanese military and the government had become "blurred". Two U.S. Democrat lawmakers have said they were holding up $100 million approved package.

Israel said a Lebanese army sniper opened fire last week on two Israeli officers as they watched a tree-pruning operation on the Israeli side of a security fence below the U.N. "Blue Line".
 

Reuters

Last Mod: 11 Ağustos 2010, 18:10
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