International donors pledged billions of dollars in aid and loans for Lebanon at a conference in Paris on Friday, hoping to stave off an economic crisis in a country hard hit by the fallout from the Syrian war.
Some 40 countries sent representatives to the meeting which had aimed to come up with the first chunk of money for an investment plan expected to reach $10 billion (8.2 billion euros) over the next four years.
By midday, they had received commitments amounting to $2.6 billion with more expected to follow throughout the day, much of it to be spent on upgrading Lebanon’s creaking infrastructure.
Lebanon said Saudi Arabia, which vies with arch-rival Iran for influence in the country, would renew a $1-billion line of credit to Beirut which had been agreed in the past but never used.
Iran, which backs Lebanon’s powerful Hezbollah Shiite militia, was not invited to the meeting.
“So far we are talking about $1.8 billion in concessional loans and around 800 (million) in grants,” said Nadim Mounla, an economic adviser to Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, who was at the conference.
“But the big money is coming in the afternoon,” he added.
The World Bank said it would “mobilise more than $4 billion over the next five years”, its chief executive Kristalina Georgieva announced on Twitter.