Qahwaji to Visit Italy amid Tough Negotiations with French Military Delegationإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
Army chief Gen. Jean Qahwaji is scheduled to visit Italy in the coming days to consolidate military ties with the European country and discuss the preparations for the conference aimed at shoring up support for the Lebanese army.
Qahwaji will seek to brief Italian military officials on the needs of the Lebanese army, al-Akhbar newspaper reported on Friday.
The conference next month could be held on two levels – military commanders of several countries, and foreign and defense ministers of the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council in addition to Italy, Germany and Spain.
More countries have expressed interest in joining the conference, al-Akhbar said.
Meanwhile, the Lebanese army is engaged in “tough negotiations” with the French military delegation that is tasked with implementing a $3 billion Saudi grant.
President Michel Suleiman revealed in late December that Saudi Arabia has decided to donate $3 billion with the aim of purchasing French weapons for the Lebanese army as soon as possible.
The delegation is in Lebanon and is holding a series of meetings with Lebanese military officials at the defense ministry in Yarze.
But the negotiations between the Lebanese and French parties are making a very slow progress, al-Akhbar said, amid reports that Paris rejects providing the army with specific weapons that it has asked for.
It has also proposed selling used equipment, the reports said despite a pledge by French army chief-of-staff Edouard Guillaud during talks with Qahwaji in Saudi Arabia to provide the army with all its needs.