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US Plans Military Aid for Lebanon, But Not Training


The U.S. Defense Department says it has no plans to train Lebanon's military, contrary to a comment Thursday by the spokesman for the State Department. But a Pentagon spokesman says the United States could provide some equipment to the Lebanese army, if certain conditions are met. VOA's Al Pessin reports from the Pentagon.

On Thursday, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the United States was planning to "help train and equip" Lebanon's military.

But on Friday, Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said while there is a plan to provide U.S. military aid to Lebanon, it does not include training Lebanese soldiers or sending any U.S. troops to the country.

Rather, he says, the department notified Congress last week that it will include Lebanon in a new foreign assistance effort called the '1206' program, which provides relatively small amounts of aid to many countries around the world.

Whitman says the just over $10 million set aside for Lebanon will not be provided until the government gains control over the entire country.

"The 1206 funding is obviously going to be based on developments and would not be implemented until there was an ability to be able to assert control over their territory, and to be able to reduce Hezbollah's operating space," he said.

The spokesman says the money would be used to buy spare parts for trucks, armored vehicles and helicopters, and would not include any weapons.

Whitman says the new foreign military aid program approved by the congress provides up to $200 million worth of aid for countries around the world to help those countries fight terrorism.

The largest recipient is Pakistan, which will get $27 million worth of aid.

"[It] doesn't take a lot to have a significant impact in some countries," Whitman said. "And if you can provide that little bit that it takes, the payback and the outcomes and the results can be significant."

Whitman says the possible military aid for Lebanon is only one part of a broader U.S. government plan to help the Lebanese government, once the current fighting stops.