French govt to provide almost $700mn in loans, grants to support Lebanon

France will provide €550 million ($672.10 million) in loans and grants to support Lebanon’s economy, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Friday. “France will announce a substantial effort of €400 million in concessionary loans and €150 million in donations to match its ambitions for Lebanon,” Le Drian told the opening of a donor conference in Paris to raise finances for the Lebanese economy, Reuters reports. Around 50 countries and international organizations were expected at the CEDRE (Cedar) conference that begins Friday. Lebanon is home to around 1.2 million refugees, accounting for nearly a quarter of its population. From 2007 until 2010, Lebanon’s economy grew at an average of 9 percent annually. It hit a major downturn in 2011, when a political crisis brought down the government and the Syrian uprising stoked unrest among Lebanese factions, AP said.