Leopard tanks to join Lebanon's fleet

Wed, 24 Dec 2008 14:55:12 GMT, PRESS TV - Germany is to supply Lebanon with Leopard tanks and military equipment as part of an assistance agreement, which would irk Israel.

A german military delegation is expected to visit Beirut next month to discuss a military assistance package to the Lebanese army, Lebanon's al-Markaziyeh News Agency reported Wednesday.

The German officials will also hold talks with their Lebanese counterparts on ways to enhance the country's military capabilities.

The early 2009 visit aims to complete an initiative Lebanese President Michel Suleiman had launched during his visit to Germany in early December.

During Suleiman's visit to Berlin, Germany agreed to provide Lebanon with 50 Leopard tanks and other military equipment in a bid to help the country secure its border with Syria.

The deal, however, is expected to face criticism from Israel, has already lost a war to Lebanon.

Israel occupied Sheeba Farms following the 1967 Six-Day War, and Lebanon has repeatedly called for the complete withdrawal of Israeli troops from the area.

Israeli fighter jets frequently violate Lebanese airspace, conducting overflights in violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which called for an end to the 33-day Israeli war on Lebanon in 2006.

Last week, Russia also announced that it would supply Lebanon with 10 MiG-29 fighter jets in a bid to boost the country's defense.

Lebanese military sources then said the Russian MiG-29 Fulcrum fighters would be provided free to Lebanon under an agreement on military-technical assistance.

The United States - since 2006 - has provided Lebanon with USD 410 million in military aid limited to light weapons and vehicles. This is while Washington's annual military aid to Israel stands at USD 2.4 billion.

The Lebanese army has never been well-equipped as the Lebanese air force is currently consisted of five Hawker Hunter jets belonging to 1950s and 1960s and a dozen of helicopters.MP/MMN


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