Sunday, 17 February, 2019

Lebanese President Proposes to Create Bank for Revival of Arab League Countries

Lebanon calls for Syrian refugees' return as Arab economic summit opens in Beirut Divisions overshadow Arab summit
Patty Aguilar | 21 January, 2019, 13:08

He also proposed creating an Arab bank for reconstruction and development "to help all affected Arab states overcome adversity and contribute to their sustainable economic growth".

The Amir H H Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani arrived in Lebanon to participate in the fourth edition of the Arab Economic and Social Development Summit, to be held Sunday in the capital Beirut.

He called on the global community to help secure the safe return of the displaced, especially to stable parts of the country, without waiting for a political solution to the conflict.

Lebanon is hosting 976,000 registered Syrian refugees, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, while the government estimates the true number of Syrian refugees in the country at 1.5 million.

Sunday's session was attended by only two heads of Arab states.

Arab League chief Ahmed Aboul Gheit on Thursday said Syria's return to the body was awaiting "Arab consensus".

President Aoun meanwhile called for establishing an "Arab bank for rebuilding conflict-afflicted Arab countries".

"They should also give aid to refugees and the displaced in their countries to encourage them to return", said the final communique.

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Organized by the Arab League, the summit is attended by only three Arab leaders; Lebanon's Aoun, Sheikh Tamim and Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz of Mauritania.

The prime minister is scheduled to deliver Jordan's speech at the summit, which focuses on the importance of economic integration among Arab countries as a key factor in facing challenges in the Arab world.

Lebanese officials have called for refugees to go home after Syria's President Bashar al-Assad reclaimed most of the country with Russian and Iranian help.

"We can see that most of Lebanese want to open up to Syria and take part in the country's reconstruction, and this can be done after Syria's re-admission", he said. Its critics oppose this, insisting the United Nations must oversee any repatriations.

The Arab League suspended Syria in November 2011, as the death toll rose in the regime's brutal repression of anti-government protests.

Aoun said he had hoped the summit would be a chance "to bring together all the Arabs and that there would be no empty seats. but the obstacles were unfortunately stronger".

Syria was suspended from the Arab League in 2011, but some members are pushing for its reinstatement and others have reopened shuttered embassies in Damascus.

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