Beirut welcomes Iranian offers of military assistance

                             By Wassim Saif al-Din</p>  <p>BEIRUT (AA) - Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil on Monday welcomed an Iranian offer to provide the Lebanese army with military assistance.</p>  <p>Bassil made the remarks at a joint press conference with Iranian counterpart Mohammad Jawad Zarif at the Foreign Ministry's headquarters in capital Beirut.</p>  <p>Upon his arrival in Lebanon on Sunday, Zarif told reporters that his country was prepared to extend military assistance to the Lebanese army. </p>  <p>Last week, Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah said the Lebanese army should procure air-defense systems from Iran with a view to protecting Lebanese airspace from Israeli military aircraft.</p>  <p>Remarking on Nasrallah’s comments, Bassil said: “It’s only natural that we would consider these [Iranian] offers, provided there are no strings attached.”</p>  <p>Beirut fears that enhanced ties with Iran could serve to alienate the U.S., which has long represented the Lebanese army’s chief source of arms procurement.