World Bank Ready to Help in Lebanon

Published May 24th, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

World Bank president James Wolfensohn said Tuesday the institution will try to assist in reconstruction and community-based development in Lebanon as soon as the current fighting dies down, reported Jerusalem Post.  

"We've not discussed this yet with the Lebanese government because this situation is all so new, but it will certainly be our intention to build our relationship there," Wolfensohn was quoted as saying.  

His remarks came during his visit to Israel. 

"We are ready to broaden and strengthen our relationship with Lebanon. There have been many projects there in the hundreds of millions of dollars, but the last one was a year ago. The purpose of the office is to try to build more projects. Clearly that is what is required. As soon as the shooting stops we'll be there," he said.  

The daily added that Wolfensohn said the World Bank could help buttress the political understandings with economic development.  

"Peace is as good as the opportunities and the tranquility and the hopes of the people," he said. "If you have inequity, if you have no hope, people get angry all around the world, not just in the Middle East. So our function is to give opportunity."  

The World Bank's relationship with the Palestinian Authority, he said, is very strong. The Bank has loaned over $4 billion worth of projects in the last seven years in the West Bank and Gaza.  

Wolfensohn told The Jerusalem Post the Bank has been working with the PA to strengthen its management team. "It's certainly their intention to do this. They're working on trying to prepare themselves for the next phase of their governance, and that means improving their judicial and legal system, their financial system and their social safety nets.  

With regard to Israel's economy, Wolfensohn was quoted by the daily as saying "I think what you need to think of more than anything else is that if you can get the political risk issues right, then you will be more likely to have longer term investment. You have neighbors who have another 250 million people and with whom you have to integrate and work. That's going to take time to build the confidence that is needed." -  


© 2000 Al Bawaba (

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