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Lebanon announces $3 billion grant from Saudi Arabia

By The Associated Press

This article was published December 29, 2013 at 10:35 a.m.

BEIRUT — Lebanon's president said Sunday that Saudi Arabia has pledged $3 billion to buy weapons from France to help support and strengthen the Lebanese army.

President Michel Sleiman made the surprise announcement, which he called the largest-ever pledge for Lebanon's army, in a televised national address. He did not provide any further details, but said French President Francois Hollande was to discuss the matter during his visit Sunday to Saudi Arabia.

"I am happy to tell the Lebanese people that the Saudi ruler will give a grant of $3 billion to strengthen the army," Sleiman said, according to a quotes published by the state news agency. "The Saudi grant will allow the Lebanese army to purchase weapons from France."

He said that he hopes Paris will quickly meet the initiative.

Fabrice Hermel, a spokesman for the French president, said he did not yet have details.

Fragile in the best of times, Lebanon is struggling to cope with the fallout from the civil war in neighboring Syria. That conflict has deeply divided Lebanon along confessional lines, and paralyzed the country's ramshackle political system to the point that it has been stuck with a weak and ineffectual caretaker government since April.

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