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The blast killed more than 200 people and injured thousands

Germany to offer massive funding deal to rebuild Beirut Port.

Germany to offer massive funding deal to rebuild Beirut Port.


(See Translation in Arabic Section)

Lebanon: Germany is preparing to make a multi-billion Euro offer to the authorities in Lebanon to rebuild Beirut Port, according to some news reports.

A huge chemical warehouse explosion last August killed more than 200 people and injured thousands, in addition to damaging entire neighbourhoods. The explosion deepened the worst political and economic crisis in Lebanon since the civil war (1975-1990).

Reuters quoted two diplomatic sources familiar with the plan as saying that Berlin will present a proposal on April 7, which the European Investment Bank has agreed to help finance. The proposal includes evacuating the area and rebuilding facilities.

One of the sources estimated the financing of the European Investment Bank at between 2 billion and 3 billion euros.

A senior Lebanese official had confirmed, according to Reuters, that Germany is preparing to submit a comprehensive proposal for the reconstruction of the port.

Neither the German Foreign Ministry nor the consulting firm Roland Berger, which the two diplomatic sources said had put together the plan, gave an immediate response to a request for comment, nor was it possible to obtain comment from the European Investment Bank.

The two diplomatic sources said that the political elite in Lebanon must first agree to form a new government to reform the economy and eradicate corruption, a condition that donors, including the International Monetary Fund, insist on implementing before providing billions in aid.

According to the two sources, Germany and France are competing to lead the reconstruction efforts.

The Lebanese source told Reuters that France and its CMAC GM Ports and Container Shipping Group, are also interested in the project.

The French Foreign Ministry refused to comment immediately, and the group also refused, according to Reuters.

Lebanon has been without a government for more than seven months.

The previous government had submitted its resignation in the wake of the devastating explosion in the port.

The disaster was exacerbated by an economic crisis that reduced half the population to poverty, and prompted massive protests calling for the removal of the political elite, whom the demonstrators accuse of corruption, mismanagement and neglect.

Martin Patience, the BBC's Beirut correspondent, said that without a new government, the Lebanese parliament would not be able to implement the reforms demanded by the international community in exchange for aid.

He adds that during the past few months, political leaders have been discussing forming a new government, at a time when the Lebanese crisis is exacerbated every day.


Copyright 2007