U.S. fears weapons sent to Lebanese military could be reaching Hizbullah
WASHINGTON — Lebanon's president has appealed to President George W. Bush for additional military
assistance amid U.S. concerns that Beirut is increasingly controlled by Hizbullah and its sponsors in Iran.
Officials said Lebanese President Michel Suleiman, a former chief of
staff, has relayed a request to the Bush administration for hundreds of
millions of dollars in weapons and military equipment. They said Lebanon has
sought helicopters, armored personnel carriers, communications and other
systems for border and internal security.
Officials said the administration has been concerned over the Hizbullah
domination of the government of Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora. They
said Hizbullah has infiltrated the Lebanese Army and military and was
preventing a response to Syrian infiltration of Lebanon.
"The concern is that any weapons given to the army could be transferred
to Hizbullah," the official said. "The truth is that Hizbullah has full
control over the army and much of the security forces. We can't ignore
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On Sept. 25, Suleiman met President George Bush in Washington and urged
the United States to expand military and security cooperation. Suleiman said
Lebanon was faced with internal and external threats.
"Mr. President, we are also here to affirm the need to liberate all
Lebanese territories and also to make it clear that the future of
Palestinian refugees is in their homeland, not in Lebanon," Suleiman said.
In 2008, the United States approved more than $230 million military and
security aid to Lebanon. The administration has pledged to continue the aid
despite the Hizbullah takeover of the Siniora government but has not
committed to additional aid.
"Your statements impressed me and we're most impressed by the national
dialogue that you're holding in an attempt to seek reconciliation," Bush
said. "The United States is proud to stand by your side. Our mission is your
mission: a country that is strong and capable, a country where people can
make a peace."