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Lebanon Wins Pledges Exceeding $11 bln at CEDRE Conference

Lebanon Wins Pledges Exceeding $11 bln at CEDRE Conference

Saturday, 7 April, 2018 - 05:15
Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri addresses the CEDRE conference at The Foreign Affairs Ministry in Paris on April 6, 2018. Ludovic MARIN / POOL / AFP
Asharq Al-Awsat
Lebanon won low-interest loan and aid pledges exceeding $11 billion on Friday at the CEDRE conference held in Paris to rally international support for an investment program aimed at boosting the country’s economy.

Lebanon, which has been battered by seven years of war in neighboring Syria and is hosting more than a million Syrian refugees, wants the funds for investment to overhaul its infrastructure and lift dwindling economic growth.

Some 40 countries sent representatives to the CEDRE conference along with officials from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund where an aid package, made up 90 percent of low-interest loans, was agreed.

Praising the "exceptional generosity of the Lebanese people" with regard to Syrian refugees, French President Emmanuel Macron said the world needed to show "full solidarity" with Lebanon.

The support was all the more critical given that the continued fighting in Syria "makes the imminent return of Syrian refugees impossible," he added.

Among the biggest donors was the World Bank which pledged more than $4 billion over five years, while France opened the conference with a promise of 550 million euros.

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri laid out his country's grim situation, which the Syrian war has accentuated.

"It is not the stability of Lebanon alone. This is the stability of the region and, therefore, of our world," Hariri said in his opening speech.

“We are a little country facing enormous political, economic and security challenges and these challenges are exacerbated by the war in Syria and the crisis of displaced Syrians in Lebanon," Hariri said, calling for substantial financial support from the international community.

"Lebanon's recovery must start ... the challenge today is to reverse the (negative) trend in terms of growth, poverty and unemployment and the government must play the main role." 

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