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General James Mattis, the US Central Command chief, on Friday pledged his country would continue to support the Lebanese army, a week after Washington lifted a freeze on military aid to Beirut.

“General Mattis came to Lebanon to reiterate … the US government’s position that the United States is committed to the continuity of (the Central Command’s) relationship with the Lebanese army and to supporting legitimate institutions of the Lebanese state,” the US embassy said.

The general “pledged to continue to support training and engagement assistance to the Lebanese army in order to build greater military capacity and deepen our relationship,” it said in a statement.

“The US believes its assistance to the LAF (Lebanese armed forces) contributes to improving regional stability.”

Mattis arrived on Friday for a brief visit, his first to Lebanon, during which he met President Michel Suleiman,  Defence Minister Elias al-Murr and Lebanese army chief General Jean Kahwaji. AFP

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