Lebanon PM meets delegation from International Finance Corporation

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A delegation from the World Bank’s private lending arm met Lebanon’s prime minister on Tuesday, as the debt-ridden country seeks assistance to rescue its moribund economy.

Lebanon has the world’s third-highest debt to GDP ratio and has been sliding towards default in recent months, with tight capital controls and a currency devaluation already hitting purchasing power.

Prime Minister Hassan Diab met a delegation from the International Finance Corporation, the NNA news agency reported.

The state agency had initially said that Diab was meeting a delegation of the International Monetary Fund, instead of members of the IFC.

Several ministers attended the meeting, according to a statement issued by Diab’s office after it ended.

Items discussed included “setting up public-private cooperation projects and developing the transport sector and the airport,” it said.

Diab’s government won parliament’s confidence only last week and the state immediately requested the IMF’s advice on tackling the economic crisis.

Lebanon is expected to decide whether to pay $1.2 billion in Eurobonds that reach maturity on March 9 or to default on its debt.

Lebanon has requested help from the IMF to assess the measures needed to rebuild the economy, but has not yet asked for financial assistance.

A IMF delegation is due to start talks with top Lebanese officials on Thursday, a source close to the prime minister told AFP.

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