Lebanese PM arrives in Paris for aid conference

24th January 2007, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Jan 24, 2007 (AFP) - Prime Minister Fuad Siniora arrived Wednesday in Paris a day ahead of a major conference on international aid for Lebanon, torn by violent opposition street protests, a member of his delegation said.

PARIS, Jan 24, 2007 (AFP) - Prime Minister Fuad Siniora arrived Wednesday in Paris a day ahead of a major conference on international aid for Lebanon, torn by violent opposition street protests, a member of his delegation said.

Siniora flew into Le Bourget airport near Paris and was to head straight to the Elysee presidential palace for lunch with President Jacques Chirac. He was also to hold talks with Prime Minister Dominiqie de Villepin later Wednesday.

Siniora was able to leave from Beirut international airport as it resumed normal activities following a near-total disruption by opposition militants who blocked access to the area by burning tyres and dumping sand and rubble.

More than 30 donor countries in addition to many interntional institutions are due to attend the aid conference expected to be held on Thursday to secure long-term financing for Lebanon's ailing economy.

Lebanon, still reeling from the economic impact of the 34-day war between Israel and Hezbollah last summer, is burdened with a public debt of 41 billion dollars.

Siniora has accused the opposition of "resorting to blackmail" to sabotage the Paris aid conference "at a time we most need it and which will be a one-time chance for Lebanon."

Three people were killed and 133 others were wounded in armed clashes, fistfights and stone-throwing in various areas of the country, brought to its knees by the one-day general strike.

The opposition wants to replace Siniora's government, which took office after elections that followed the withdrawal of Syrian troops in 2005, with a national unity cabinet in which it would have the right of veto.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French News

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