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French Version

EU plans new phase of cooperation to boost Lebanese economy

Head of the Middle East Unit in the European Union Alan Seatter said Monday cooperation between the EU and Lebanon will contribute to developing Lebanon's economy.

Seatter, who is heading the EU Task Force in charge of the European Neighborhood Policy, was speaking after a meeting with acting Foreign Affairs Minister Tarek Mitri and the coordinator of the Euro-Mediterranean Policy at the Foreign Affairs Ministry, Najla Assaker.

Seatter said: "The EU and Lebanon will enter a new phase of cooperation that will contribute to developing Lebanon's economy and open it to the European and international market and will encourage investments in it and increase work vacancies."

Seatter further reiterated Europe's readiness to support the Lebanese government in its economic, political, judicial and democratic reforms.

He also explained that his team will exchange with the Lebanese government action plans in which they will both define their priorities based on the government's reform plan.

The EU Task Force, which is on a two-day visit to Lebanon, aims at defining a working method with the Lebanese authorities to be adopted during the negotiation process of a five-year action plan within the framework of the European Neighborhood Policy.

The negotiations are due to start in December, after Lebanon officially becomes a member in the European Neighborhood Policy.

The EU delegation also met with officials from the Finance Ministry and the Economy and Trade Ministry. On Tuesday they will hold a seminar with a ministerial group coordinated by the Economy and Trade Ministry. They are also expected to meet with civil society members on Tuesday after the seminar

The commission's visit is also a follow-up to the European Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighborhood Policy Benita Ferrero-Waldner's visit to Lebanon earlier this month.

The EU commission has put forward a new reform support program of 10 million euros, part of the 100.7 million euros already committed from the EU community budget for the period 2000-06. The EU remains one of Lebanon's leading donors.

Beirut,10 24 2005
Nada Bakri
The Daily Star
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