Lebanon Defense Minister hails Turkish support for army

By Wasim Saif al-Din

BEIRUT (AA) – Lebanese Defense Minister Yacoub al-Sarraf on Wednesday thanked Turkey for the support it extended to the Lebanese army at the Rome II conference, held in the Italian capital in March.

Al-Sarraf voiced appreciation for Turkey’s support at a meeting with Turkish Ambassador to Lebanon Hakan Cakil, held at the ministry's Beirut headquarters.

During the meeting, the two men discussed “means of strengthening bilateral cooperation, the general situation in Lebanon, and recent regional developments”, according to a ministry statement.

They also reportedly discussed Turkey's “critical role” in the region and the impact of the Syrian refugee crisis on Lebanon.

Beirut puts the number of Syrian refugees in Lebanon at some 1.5 million, although the UN puts the number at less than one million.

In 2015, Turkey began including Lebanon in its foreign military-assistance program.

And during March’s Rome II conference, Turkey pledged to support the Lebanese Armed Forces by increasing military assistance to Lebanese security institutions.