TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Lebanese Defense Minister Samir Moqbel announced that Lebanon can accept Iran’s offer to supply Beirut with arms and military equipment now that Riyadh has cancelled its plan for arms supplies to Lebanon.
Saudi Arabia said Friday it has halted a $3 billion program for military supplies to Lebanon in protest against Hezbollah group fighting in support of Syria’s army.
In reaction, Moqbel said that Iran’s initiative to arm the Lebanese army is now more seriously raised, because anti-Iran sanctions were removed in mid-January.
The Lebanese government should now take a political decision, Moqbel said, urging the administration not to miss the chance for the arming of Lebanese army in their fight against terrorist challenges.
“I hope there will be a re-examination of the Iranian offer to support the Lebanese Army,” Moqbel said in an interview with Al Mayadeen TV.
Moqbel revealed that he knew about the Saudi decision to halt the aid to Lebanon for “a while”.
“I am saddened by the Saudi decision and hope Riyadh reconsiders it. The Lebanese Army has the necessary capabilities to fight terrorism,” Moqbel added.
The Lebanese minister, who visited Iran in October 2014, had been lobbying for the Lebanese government to accept the Iranian offer of military aid.
Members of the Saudi-backed March 14 coalition in Lebanon had pressured the government not to accept the aid, arguing at the time that it would violate international sanctions against Iran.
Sanctions were lifted off Iran last month in a historic deal between the Islamic Republic and world powers over its nuclear program.
Back in October 2014, Iran’s defense minister said the country has prepared a series of military items to be dispatched to Lebanon as a gift in order to help the Arab country in fighting against the Takfiri terrorists.
Iran’s Defense Minister Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan said the weapons will be delivered to Lebanon at Beirut’s request.
Lebanon is an influential country in the regional security and has a special position in Iran’s foreign policy agenda, the minister explained.
That’s why the Islamic Republic is resolved to support the Lebanese nation and government and help equip that country’s army, he added.
Dehqan reiterated that Tehran is prepared to train the Lebanese armed forces and convey its experiences for the battle against the Takfiri terrorists, including the Daesh (ISIL) terrorist group.
Moqbel said for his part at the time that Iran’s gift for Lebanon’s army is “unconditional”, but his country’s cabinet should handle the legal procedures for the arms delivery.