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Middle East

International donors promise 8bn euros aid to Lebanon

media French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian delivers his opening speech as Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri at the Cedre conference Reuters

International donors, including France, the EU and Kuwait, have promised eight billion euros in loans and donations to help the Lebanese economy, it was announced at a conference in Paris on Friday.

The aid, which will finance investments to be made over the next five years, was announced at the Cedre conference to support the Lebanese economy in Paris on Friday.

Before it opened, France announced that it would contribute 550 million euros - 400 million in low-interest loans and 150 million in donations.

Other sources included Kuwait, the Fades Arab Fund, the Netherlands and the European Union.

Saudi Arabia, which was accused of pressing Prime Minister Saad Hariri to resign last year, is to renew its million-dollar line of credit to the country, despite or because of its misgivings about the influence of regional rival Iran in the country.

Syrian refugees

"Lebanon is not an island," French Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian," told the conference. "It is suffering the full effect of regional tensions and the Syrian crisis. It is fighting terrorism at its borders and domestically and, with more than a million refugees, it has taken on more than its share of the burden of exile"

Syrian refugees now make up about a quarter of the population of the small country.

Since the war in its larger neighbour broke out, the Lebanese economy has seen growth fall from eight percent to one percent, a loss of 18 billion euros between 2011 and 2015.

Hariri, who was accompanied by ministers from across the Lebanese political spectrum, promised the conference to fight corruption, "modernise" the awarding of public-sector contracts, improve "fiscal government" and cut the budget deficit, currently at 9-10 percent of GDP¨, by five points in the next five years.

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