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Middle East
Iran ready to sell arms to Lebanon
Minister says his country is prepapred to sell military equipment on Lebanon's request.
Last Modified: 29 Aug 2010 08:12 GMT
Hassan Nasrallah said his group can help
in securing the deal [AFP]

Iran's defence minister has said his country is prepared to sell weapons to Lebanon should it ask for help to equip its military.

General Ahmad Vahidi on Wednesday said Lebanon "is our friend" and that Iran is ready to offer military aid.

"If there is a demand in this respect, we are ready to help that country and conduct weapons transactions with it," he was quoted as saying by the official Irna news agency.

Vahidi's comments come a day after Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, the Hezbollah leader, proposed the Lebanese government formally seek military assistance from Iran.

Nasrallah vowed in a televised speech on Tuesday that his Iranian-backed group could help secure the aid for Lebanon's poorly-equipped army.

'Friendly assistance'

"I vow that Hezbollah will work fervently and capitalise on its friendship with Iran to ensure it helps arm the Lebanese military in any way it can," he said.

Nasrallah, whose movement is backed by Iran and Syria, made the call following a US freeze in its military aid to Lebanon in the wake of deadly border clashes between Lebanese and Israeli troops.

A US legislator earlier this month suspended $100m of military aid to Lebanon over concerns the weapons could be used to attack Israel, and that Hezbollah may have influence over the Lebanese army.

In Washington Mark Toner, a US state department spokesman, said the possibility of Iranian arms sales to Lebanon underscore "the importance both to our national security and the security of the region to continue with our security assistance to the Lebanese army".

Toner said a review of the aid programme to Lebanon was under way and that "we hope to conclude that soon and renew assistance".

The Lebanese army is still seen as under-equipped compared to Hezbollah.

Source:
Agencies
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