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France hopes for early election of Lebanese Pres.

PARIS, Dec 9 (KUNA) -- Amid preparations for a visit later this week to Paris by Lebanese Prime Minister Tammam Salam and a large senior-level delegation, France expressed hope that the Lebanese MPs will soon elect a new president after several months of delay. French Foreign Ministry Spokesman Romain Nadal said Tuesday that senior French officials had recently travelled to Lebanon to discuss "cooperation between our two countries. "France and Lebanon are very close. We hope that the Lebanese parliamentarians will very soon manage to elect a new president," Nadal said. He indicated that the recent trip by French officials to Lebanon was also to prepare for Salam's important visit to Paris. President Francois Hollande will hold talks with the Lebanese head of government on Friday and later in the day Salam, accompanied by Defence Minister Samir Moqbil, will meet with French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian. The talks are to address the bilateral ties but also the security situation in Lebanon with the overspill of the Syrian conflict in that country, including the massive influx of Syrian refugees who now make up 25 percent of the population of that country. The frequent clashes with radical groups on the joint border with Syria have prompted France, backed by Saudi Arabia, to provide the underequipped Lebanese army with new equipment to help it ensure security. A number of Lebanese soldiers have lost their lives in border clashes and others have been captured and are being held, while some have been executed by the Islamist extremists. France has signed a deal to supply the Lebanese army with USD three billion in weapons and training to modernise the armed forces and equip it to deal with the border threat and other efforts at destabilisation. This deal has the backing of Saudi Arabia. Hollande and Salam are expected to discuss the ongoing political impasse in Lebanon, particularly the difficulties in electing a new president after the inconclusive elections last April. (end)

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Publication:Kuwait News Agency (KUNA)
Geographic Code:4EUFR
Date:Dec 10, 2014
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