Lebanon defence minister says US can keep ‘conditional’ aid

BEIRUT — Lebanon’s defence minister on Wednesday lashed out at a US decision to halt aid to his country’s army in the wake of a deadly border clash with Israel, protesting that aid was being made conditional.

“Whoever sets as a condition that the aid should not be used to protect Lebanon’s land, people and borders from the (Israeli) enemy can keep their money,” Defence Minister Elias Murr told a news conference.

“We welcome any unconditional offer of aid to the Lebanese army, and if anyone announces they have decided to halt that aid, they are free to make that choice,” he said.

Murr’s bitter comments were in reaction to a US decision to freeze military aid to Lebanon following last week’s clash between Israeli and Lebanese troops that left four dead.

An advisor to Lebanese President Michel Sleiman has also criticised the US decision but said that support for the army was central to upholding Lebanon’s sovereignty.


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