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Germany To Propose Beirut Port Reconstruction With ’Strings Attached’

Germany To Propose Beirut Port Reconstruction With ’Strings Attached’
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By Staff, Agencies

Germany will next week present a multi-billion-dollar proposal to the Lebanese authorities to rebuild the Port of Beirut as part of efforts to entice the country’s politicians to form a government capable of warding off financial collapse, two sources said.

A chemical explosion at the port last August killed 200 people, injured thousands and destroyed entire neighborhoods in Lebanon’s capital, plunging the country deeper into its worst political and economic crisis since the 1975-1990 civil war.

According to two diplomatic sources with knowledge of the plans, Germany and France are vying to lead reconstruction efforts. Berlin will on April 7 outline a proposal that the European Investment Bank has agreed to help fund that would clear the area and reconstruct facilities, they said.

One of the sources estimated EIB funding in the range of 2 billion to 3 billion euros.

A senior Lebanese official confirmed that Germany was due to present a comprehensive port reconstruction proposal.

Neither the German foreign ministry nor consultancy firm Roland Berger, which the diplomatic sources said put the plan together, immediately responded to requests for comment. The EIB was not immediately available for comment.

The two diplomatic sources said Lebanon’s political elite first need to agree on the make-up of a new government to fix public finances and root out corruption, a condition which donors, including the International Monetary Fund, are also insisting on before they will unlock billions of dollars in aid.

“This plan is not going to come without strings attached,” said one of the sources. “Germany and France want first to see a government in place committed to implementing reforms. There is no other way around it and this is good for Lebanon.”

Eight months after the port disaster, many Lebanese who lost family, homes and businesses are still waiting for the results of an investigation into the causes of the blast.

Lebanon is on the verge of collapse, with shoppers brawling over goods, protesters blocking roads, and businesses shuttered.

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