Friday, December 31, 2010

U.S. Lawmaker Urges France Not Sell Lebanon Arms

France should scrap its planned sale to Lebanon of 100 anti-tank missiles because they could end up being used by the powerful militant group Hezbollah against Israel, a U.S. lawmaker said Dec. 23.

Democratic Rep. Steve Rothman urged French President Nicolas Sarkozy in a letter to find "other ways" to help Lebanon's armed forces.

"The stakes are too high, and the danger this would pose to Israel is far too real. I therefore respectfully request that you reconsider this arms deal of anti-tank missiles and seek to aid the LAF in other ways," wrote Rothman.

Rothman noted that France was expected to deliver the weapons before March 2011 but warned "Lebanon is in a precarious situation whereby Hezbollah is in a powerful position to usurp the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF)."

"If this were to occur, Israel would be in grave danger of having your anti-tank missiles used against her," he added.

"I agree in principle that strengthening the LAF against Hezbollah is an important goal, but I believe that providing the LAF with anti-tank missiles is neither helpful nor necessary in that regard," said Rothman.

Israel which fought a devastating war with Hezbollah in 2006, has also reportedly expressed concerns.

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