Saudi pledges $3 bn to Lebanese army

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia

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Saudi Arabia has pledged $3 billion for the Lebanese army to buy equipment from France, Lebanese President Michel Sleiman announced on Sunday.

The kingdom “decided to provide generous assistance to Lebanon in the form of $3 billion for the Lebanese army to strengthen its capabilities,” Sleiman said, adding that it was the largest assistance provided in Lebanon’s history.

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The aid pledge comes amid mounting sectarian tension in Lebanon, with the Shiite Hezbollah movement intervening in the conflict in neighbouring Syria alongside President Bashar al-Assad’s forces and Sunnis providing sympathy or support to the rebels fighting to overthrow him.

Sunni-dominated Saudi Arabia is the leading outside champion of the rebels. Shiite Iran is the leading regional backer of Hezbollah and Assad’s regime.