Jämtin in Beirut for aid talks preparations

Swedish Aid Minister Carin Jämtin arrived in Beirut on Sunday to prepare a donors' conference aimed at helping Lebanon recover from the devastation inflicted by Israeli attacks, officials said.

Jämtin, minister of international cooperation and development, was due to meet with Lebanon’s finance and economy ministers and tour Beirut’s war-battered southern suburbs, a stronghold of the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah.

Stockholm plans to host an international aid conference for Lebanon on August 31 with representatives of 60 governments and organisations invited, the Swedish foreign ministry has said.

The month-long Israeli offensive which ended last Monday left at least 1,287 people dead and 4,054 wounded in Lebanon, according to an AFP count based on official figures. The large majority of casualties were civilians.

Lebanon’s state High Relief Committee has estimated damage inflicted by the offensive at 3.6 billion dollars, with 15,000 homes, 80 bridges and 94 roads destroyed or damaged.

Lebanon already received emergency aid of 500 million dollars from Saudi Arabia and 800 million dollars from Kuwait.

Last week the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, an anti-Semitism awareness group slammed Sweden’s plans to host an international aid conference for Lebanon as “discriminatory”, saying the meeting should also address the needs of Israeli victims of the conflict.