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Paris to Convene Lebanon Support Meeting as Hariri Requests Aid for Imports

Paris to Convene Lebanon Support Meeting as Hariri Requests Aid for Imports

Friday, 6 December, 2019 - 11:30
FILE PHOTO: Lebanon's now caretaker Prime Minister Saad Hariri speaks during a news conference in Beirut, Lebanon October 18, 2019. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir

France plans to convene a meeting of an international support group for Lebanon next week to mobilize assistance for the country, a Lebanese government official said, as caretaker Prime Minister Saad Hariri requested aid to help the country secure imports of food and raw materials.

A European official said invitations had been sent out for the Dec. 11 meeting in Paris.

"It is a meeting to attempt to mobilize assistance to help Lebanon deal with the acute crisis that it is facing," the Lebanese official said.

The official spoke to Reuters as a statement from Hariri’s office said that the caretaker PM requested the aid from friendly countries amid an acute dollar shortage.

Hariri “asked them to assist Lebanon by securing credits for imports from these countries, thus ensuring the continuity of food security and raw materials for production in various sectors,” it said.

The appeal for aid was sent to eight western and Arab countries.

Lebanon is grappling with heavy financial strains. Banks have been imposing tight controls on access to hard currency and transfers abroad for more than a month, fearing capital flight.

The crisis has worsened since Oct. 17, when nationwide protests against years of corruption and mismanagement erupted, leading to the resignation of Hariri's government two weeks later.

Lebanon imports most of its basic needs, including wheat, petrol and medicine, leading to a huge trade deficit. Importers have been facing difficulties in getting US dollars to cover imports as the local currency, which has been pegged to the dollar since 1997, lost 40 percent of its value on the black market.

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