Paris meeting: More words than money. Ten foreign ministers raise only $18 million - Lebanon

Paris meeting: More words than money
Ten foreign ministers raise only $18 million
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The International Support Group for Lebanon (ISGL) conference convened on March 5 foreign ministers of more than ten countries to discuss means to mitigate the impact of the Syrian crisis. The conference, hosted at the Elysée presidential palace in Paris, underlined the need to support the local economy and the Lebanese Armed Forces. However, the conference could not muster up enough financial aid to fall through with their calls.

France promised $10 million, Norway $4.8 million, and Finland $3 million, according to an official at the French Presidential Palace. The funds will be transferred to a multi-donor trust fund, managed by the World Bank.

Representatives of Britain, China, France, Russia, U.S., Germany, and Saudi Arabia attended the international gathering among others.

“The U.N. and its partners stood ready to work closely with government counterparts, including with regard to enhancing Lebanon’s ability to manage and assist arriving refugees and to putting in place contingency measures for their reception,” said an ISGL statement read by Jeffrey Feltman, the United Nations Undersecretary General.

President Michel Sleiman, who co-headed the conference with the French president, said international assistance for the Army was required to implement his proposed national defense strategy.

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said: “We are ready to continue military-technical cooperation with Lebanon in the interest of strengthening its armed forces and security services.”
Lavrov said assistance should include not only donation pledges “which are often realized only in part, but mainly real support to the Lebanese government and private institutions that deal directly with the accommodation of refugees in the country, and implementation of joint business and investment projects aimed at strengthening the economy and reducing unemployment.”

The ISGL was launched in New York last September with the aim of supporting Lebanon’s institutions to address the presence of over a million Syrian refugees on its territories.

The statement said: “Participants stressed the need to further strengthen the Army’s capabilities to help them address these challenges. They welcomed international assistance already being given and the recent generous offer of assistance by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”

Saudi Arabia promised late last year $3 billion in order to receive needed equipment for the Army from France.

Another conference by ISGL will be held in Rome to tackle means to strengthen the Army.
Reported by Yassmine Alieh
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Date Posted: Mar 06, 2014