BEIRUT: Lebanon is gearing up to take part in three international conferences scheduled for early 2018, as the government seeks to rally international support for its security institutions and attract foreign investments to shore up an economy reeling under the burden of a sizeable refugee population.
Lebanese officials will first head to Italy, which will host the Rome II conference at the end of February, aimed at consolidating international support for Lebanon’s security agencies and further strengthening the Lebanese army’s capabilities.
The army leadership, in coordination with the Lebanese government, is currently preparing a dossier to submit at the conference attended by several NATO countries as part of an international effort to shore up the country’s defensive capabilities with the aim of safeguarding its borders.
On Monday, President Michel Aoun held a meeting with Defense Minister Yaacoub Sarraf to “discuss preparations for the international conference to support the army and Internal Security Forces taking place in Rome at the end of next month,” a statement posted on the president’s official Twitter account said.
Lebanon will also seek to attract foreign investment to prop up its economy as officials head to Paris in March to attend the “Cedar Conference."
The conference's fourth edition is aimed at bolstering financial support for Lebanon, building on the Paris III summit, during which the international community pledged $7.6 billion in aid to Lebanon.
Speaking at a ceremony honoring the previous head of Lebanon’s Economic and Social Council Roger Nasnas on Monday, Prime Minister Saad Hariri reiterated the need to secure the requisite financing needed for Lebanon’s upcoming projects spanning the water, transport, electricity and sanitation sectors, among others.
“Our program for the upcoming Paris summit includes over 250 projects worth $16 billion,” Hariri said, adding that he hopes to fund these endeavors “through soft loans from international funds and different financial institutions.”
As Lebanon continues to deal with the repercussions of the Syrian Civil war, hosting up to 1.5 million refugees, the Brussels summit to be held on the fourth of April will bring together over 70 countries, international organizations and civil society to “reconfirm existing pledges and identify additional support to Syrian inside Syria and in the neighboring countries.”
Titled the “Brussels Conference on Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region”, the conference will seek to assess where the international community stands collectively in fulfilling commitments made at the London conference in February 2016, ramping up aid and assistance for countries such as Lebanon that have carried a substantial burden of the refugee crisis that broke out in 2012.