Sources close to the ministerial delegation accompanying Prime Minister Saad Hariri during his visit to Russia reported that Russia has decided to supply Lebanon with over 30 T-72 tanks and 122 Howitzer cannons.
The sources were also quoted by Central News Agency as saying that the tanks and cannons will be granted to Lebanon in addition to the Mi-24 attack helicopters Russia promised in February to replace the MIG 29
According to the sources a Lebanese military delegation will be visiting Russia soon to work out the details. The Lebanese army is reportedly preparing a shopping list of arms it plans to buy from Russia.
Hariri, who is in Moscow for an official 2 day visit to Russia , met earlier on Monday with Russian officials including Orthodox Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia. Following their meeting Hariri told reporters :
“We in Lebanon are living according to the principle of coexistence, and this responsibility obligates us all, as Lebanese, to close ranks.”
According to a statement issued by Hariri’s office, the PM met with Patriarch Kirill in the presence of ministers Elias al-Murr, Ibrahim Najjar and Salim Wardeh, who traveled with Hariri to Russia.
Kirill voiced the importance of coexistence in Lebanon, the statement added.
Hariri later met with his Russian counterpart Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.
Following his meeting with Putin Hariri told reporters: Israel must agree to the principles of the Madrid Conference and the Arab Peace Initiative, and we believe that Russia has played a major role concerning the Palestinian cause.
Update: Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri said at the end of the talks with Russian PM Putin that Russia has decided to donate to the Lebanese army six helicopters model MI 24, thirty one tanks model T-72 , thirty six cannons 130 mm , about half a million munitions for various weapons and thirty thousand artillery shells for the 130 mm cannons.
Russian Itar-Tass News Agency has reported that Putin has asked his Lebanese counterpart to support the participation of Russian companies in tenders in his country.
“We will seek your support in promoting Russian companies’ bids for tenders in your country,” Itar-Tass quoted Putin as saying during his meeting with Hariri on Monday.
Putin reportedly referred to cooperation in different areas such as “energy, transport, communications and certainly military-technical cooperation.”
“I must say that we have concrete plans with regard to all these areas and our big companies have in some instances applied as possible bidders,” Putin reportedly added.
Hariri has reportedly assured Putin that he would welcome any Russian company on the Lebanese market in such sectors as transport, energy, dam and railway construction.
“Another important component of our relations is military-technical cooperation and security interaction,” Hariri reportedly said.