Workers remove part of a construction crane from a building, as giant Lebanese flag flutters in downtown Beirut, Lebanon, Wednesday, May 18, 2016. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)
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Friday's CEDRE conference in Paris will be different from previous meetings aimed at helping Lebanon's economy, with a string of positive developments in the country leading the international community to be cautiously optimistic.The highly anticipated conference has faced criticism for encouraging a country already laden with a debt of around $80 billion to take out additional loans. Lebanon is looking for actual investments of between $16 and $17 billion for Phase I and Phase II of the Capital Investment Program that is being presented at the conference.In any case, the more significant outcome of the conference will be the message it sends to the private sector.Nevertheless, CEDRE is not a crisis conference but a forum to encourage the private sector to support Lebanon's infrastructure and reforms, the diplomat emphasized. Eyebrows have been raised over an event that will slap more debt onto an already troubled economy, but the loans Lebanon is set to take out are low interest loans – commonly referred to as "soft loans".
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