Rothman to Sarkozy: Don’t sell missiles to Lebanon

WASHINGTON (JTA) — U.S. Rep. Steve Rothman asked French President Nicolas Sarkozy not to sell anti-tank missiles to Lebanon.

"As you know, Lebanon is in a precarious situation whereby Hezbollah is in a powerful position to usurp the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF)," Rothman (D-N.J.) wrote Wednesday in a letter to Sarkozy, who is seen as generally pro-Israel and is due to visit the United States next month. "If this were to occur, Israel would be in grave danger of having your anti-tank missiles used against her."

Rothman, who is a defense appropriator, was referring to reports that France plans to sell 100 state-of-the-art anti-tank missiles to Lebanon early next year.

The United States and France are committed to propping up Lebanon’s government against challenges it faces from Hezbollah, an indigenous Shiite militia that has strong Iranian and Syrian backing.

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

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