U.S. pledges support for Lebanon's security

Jan. 10, 2014 at 9:39 AM   |   Comments

BEIRUT, Lebanon, Jan. 10 (UPI) -- The United States is committed to supporting Lebanese efforts to maintain national security in the face of Syrian threats, a visiting diplomat said Friday.

U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Middle East Policy Matthew Spence met in Beirut with Lebanese President Michel Suleiman to discuss regional threats to Lebanese security.

Washington is committed to supporting the Lebanese military effort to "fulfill its national role in preserving the country's civil peace and stability," he was quoted by The Daily Star newspaper in Lebanon as saying.

Last year, the U.S. government said it approved $8.7 million in assistance to support the Lebanese military's efforts to monitor, secure, and protect its borders against terrorist threats.

Lebanon's national security is under threat from civil war raging in neighboring Syria. That threat level escalated last year when Hezbollah, a Shiite movement in Lebanon, admitted it had fighters deployed in Syria to support forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Lebanese Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour said Monday a $3 billion grant from Saudi Arabia to buy weapons from France wasn't enough when compared with Israel's annual defense budget of $17 billion.

Mansour is on the March 8 political slate, which counts Hezbollah lawmakers among its members.

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