French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius hailed the conclusion of the deal, first announced last December, as a major boost to the Lebanese army’s ability to tackle “terrorism” at a time when the former French colony is under mounting threat.
The deal comes as the poorly equipped Lebanese army battles jihadists, including militants of the Islamic State group, both along its porous border with Syria and in its second city Tripoli.
The deal was signed in Riyadh by Saudi Finance Minister Ibrahim al-Assaf and Edouard Guillaud, the head of the ODAS organisation set up by France for the export of defence equipment, a diplomat said.
Lebanese army chief General Jean Kahwaji was also present at the ceremony, the diplomat said, without giving details on the list of weapons to be supplied — a clause that had stalled the agreement for months.
The contract should “be rapidly implemented.”
The French foreign minister said: “This agreement, financed through Saudi aid, will contribute to strengthening the Lebanese army, guarantor of Lebanon’s unity and stability.
“It will help it to carry out its mission to defend national territory and fight terrorism, at a time when Lebanon is under threat.”