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Lebanon's defense minister will pay an official visit to Moscow
Lebanon's defense minister will pay an official visit to Moscow on Monday to discuss with his Russian counterpart the purchase of Russian heavy weaponry.

Meeting with a senior Russian defense official in Beirut last week, Elias Murr said "there are no obstacles to equipping the army."

A senior Lebanese Defense Ministry official was also quoted by local media as saying that there would be "no political conditions" attached to arms deals between Lebanon and Russia.

An unidentified Lebanese General Staff official said earlier that Beirut was seeking to buy heavy weaponry from Russia, including tanks, antitank rockets, air defense systems, armored vehicles and helicopters.

The United States has provided military assistance to Lebanon to help the fractured Middle East state fight terrorism and resist the Hezbollah Shiite military group that controls the country's south. However, U.S. support to the Lebanese Armed Forces has so far been limited to light weapons.

Some Pentagon and State Department officials have expressed concern about extensive military aid to a country where Hezbollah, which has close ties to Syria and Iran, continues to play an important role. Israel has also been lobbying against heavy weapons supplies to Lebanon, fearing they might eventually be used against it.

Lebanon was reported to have been in talks on arms supplies with China and Iran.


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