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Hariri secures significant military aid from Russia.

Summary: BEIRUT: Prime Minister Saad Hariri said after talks with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin that Russia would grant the Lebanese Army helicopter gunships, tanks and munitions. Hariri announced that Moscow would provide Lebanon with six MI 24 helicopters, 31 T-72 tanks, 36 cannons of 130 mm caliber, around half a million different munitions for medium-sized weapons

BEIRUT: Prime Minister Saad Hariri said after talks with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin that Russia would grant the Lebanese Army helicopter gunships, tanks and munitions.

Hariri announced that Moscow would provide Lebanon with six MI 24 helicopters, 31 T-72 tanks, 36 cannons of 130 mm caliber, around half a million different munitions for medium-sized weapons, and 30,000 artillery shells for free.

The Lebanese prime minister, who headed a delegation of ministers, highlighted the importance of security and military ties between Russia and Lebanon.

"We also see that military and security relations are very important, as well as military exchanges and training. We thank you for all the support you have granted Lebanon in this area," said Hariri, addressing Putin.

The prime minister also praised Russia's role regarding the Middle East conflict, reiterating Arab demands.

"We believe that Russia's role is major, and your historical positions in support of the Palestinian cause and the Arabs, as well as your support to the international resolutions related to these issues, were fair. Russia has always been the party that sees the problem from two sides," he said.

"We hope that your role in this process will become stronger, because the region needs Russia's role C* We must put an end to Israeli continuous intransigence, because the region does not tolerate all this extremism that exists in it," the premier said.

Hariri also urged Russia to increase its investment in Lebanon. "Trade exchange must be better than it is today because of the special political relations. Therefore we welcome all Russian companies to participate in the tenders in the areas of transportation, construction of dams, railways, and others.," he said.

Meanwhile, Putin said he saw "good potential" for improving bilateral trade links and spoke of the desire of Russian companies for more business in Lebanon. "Two agreements are scheduled to be signed, the first is a cooperation agreement between the Russian General Prosecutor's Office and the Lebanese Justice Ministry, and the other an agreement in the field of culture," he said.

"There is good potential for the development of our commercial relations, especially in terms of implementing major projects in the areas of energy, transport and communication as well as military cooperation," Putin added. "In these areas, there are serious and concrete projects, and you know the desire of major Russian companies to participate in the tenders that will take place in Lebanon and these issues will be discussed in details later on," he said.

Hariri and the accompanying delegation later attended a dinner banquet held by Putin.

The premier is set to hold talks with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev Tuesday, the final day of his two-day official visit. Earlier Monday, Hariri discussed with Mikhail Dmitriyev, the director of the Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation, military cooperation between the two countries along with Russian military assistance to Lebanon. Defense Minister Elias Murr, and adviser Georges Chaaban participated in the talks.

Hariri also received the first deputy head of OAO LUKOIL Company, Sergey Chaplygin. Talks focused on ways to expand the firm's investments in Lebanon, as well as the issues of rehabilitating the Tripoli oil refinery, and transporting oil from Iraq to Lebanon for export it to other countries. Lukoil is Russia's biggest oil firm.

Hariri also held talks with Russia's Roman Orthodox Patriarch Kirill at the latter's residence. Kirill said his church was "disgusted from the criminal act" that targeted former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri -- Saad's father -- and expressed his support for the Special Tribunal for Lebanon. -- The Daily Star

Copyright 2009, The Daily Star. All rights reserved.

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Publication:The Daily Star (Beirut, Lebanon)
Geographic Code:7LEBA
Date:Nov 16, 2010
Words:661
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