Lebanon is keen to sign a free trade deal with Iraq, the head of the Beirut chamber of commerce, Adnan Kassar, told journalists Saturday, July 7.
"Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri has assured us that Lebanon is ready to sign a free trade deal with Iraq, similar to agreements signed with Syria and Egypt," he said after a meeting with Hariri.
Kassar, who was accompanied by a delegation from Iraqi chambers of commerce and industry, added that Hariri promised to give instructions to make it easier for Iraqi businessmen to get visas to Lebanon.
A number of leading businessmen and politicians are urging the Hariri government to speed up the process of normalization between Lebanon and Iraq, to develop economic and trade exchanges and to import Iraqi crude oil that Baghdad is offering at half price, as is the case for Syria, Jordan and Turkey.
Lebanon, which broke off diplomatic relations with Iraq in 1994 after the assassination in Beirut of an Iraqi opposition leader, resumed them in March but only at the level of charge d'affaires.
Relations earlier picked up in 1997 when Syria, which wields great influence over Lebanon, improved its ties with Iraq. ― (AFP, Beirut)
© Agence France Presse 2001
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )