French president Francois Hollande vows $113mn military aid in Lebanon visit

April 17, 2016 2:37 am

French President (C) delivers a speech at the Residence des Pins (Pine Residence) on April 16, 2016 in Beirut. (Photos by AFP)

French President Francois Hollande has visited on the first leg of a regional tour that will also take him to Egypt and Jordan, pledging $113 million in mostly military aid to Beirut over three years.
Following his Saturday arrival in the capital Beirut, Hollande held separate talks with Lebanon’s Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri and Prime Minister Tammam Salam, announcing the assistance to the tiny country that hosts over one million Syrian refugees to as “strengthen Lebanon’s military capacity.”

French President Francois Hollande (L) attends a joint press conference with Lebanese Prime Minister Tammam Salam after a meeting in Beirut on April 16, 2016.

On the political front, the French president also called on Lebanese politicians to end squabbling over selecting a president.
“This is a crucial moment, because you need to resolve this crisis and give Lebanon a president,” said Hollande after meeting with Berri.

Lebanon’s Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri (R) shakes hands with French President Francois Hollande upon his arrival to the Lebanese Parliament in downtown Beirut on  April 16, 2016.

Hollande also told reporters in Beirut that he recognized “the particularly difficult circumstances” facing Lebanon as the result of the foreign-backed war in neighboring Syria.
“In addition to… facing terrorist threats, Lebanon has hosted and continues to host a very high number of refugees,” he added.
Berri also stated that it was necessary “to find a political solution to lift the burden” generated by the refugee population in the country.
The two-day visit is Hollande’s second to Lebanon since 2012. He will visit the Egyptian capital Cairo next on Sunday afternoon and move on to Jordan.
The French leader is expected to discuss both the political turmoil in Egypt’s western neighbor Libya and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with his Egyptian counterpart, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
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