Hariri says UAE promised Lebanon financial assistance

Lebanese PM tells media UAE has promised financial aid that will revive Lebanon’s indebted economy as Abu Dhabi seeks to build political sway in Beirut.

Significant UAE investment in Lebanon would mark new phase in relations

BEIRUT - Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri said on Tuesday the United Arab Emirates had promised financial assistance for his deeply indebted country, according to Lebanese media, after two days of high-stakes meetings in Abu Dhabi.

"We were promised financial assistance that will revive the Lebanese economy," Hariri said in comments to reporters in the Emirati capital, according to broadcasters al-Jadeed and MTV.

"Soon you will hear very excellent news, be it in the matter of investment or aid," he said according to al-Jadeed.

Hariri, who led a Lebanese delegation to the Gulf state seeking funds to stem a loss of investor and depositor confidence at home, had hoped on Monday for a cash injection into Lebanon's central bank.

But on Tuesday broadcaster MTV quoted him saying this option "requires study" and that discussions on the topic included risks to the UAE of such a move.

There have been no further official UAE statements on Hariri's visit since his meeting with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan on Monday, when the UAE lifted a ban on its citizens traveling to Lebanon.

Faced with one of the world's highest debt burdens, low growth and crumbling infrastructure, Beirut has vowed to implement long-delayed reforms though little has so far been done.

The country, which has a debt-to-GDP ratio around 150%, is also seeking to reverse a sharp loss of confidence in the Lebanese pound. Its central bank has been drawing down its foreign exchange reserves to repay the state's maturing debt.

Hariri held two meetings in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday to "accelerate".

Significant UAE investment in Lebanon would mark a new phase in relations. For the UAE, the benefits could include building political sway to counter the powerful Iran-backed Shiite Lebanese group Hezbollah while also the chance to invest in Lebanon's nascent oil and gas sector or its port.