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Bush Seeks Private Money to Supplement Government Funds to Make Lebanon “Flourish”

U.S. President George W. Bush wants the private sector to add to government aid for Lebanon. The president’s remarks came at the announcement of a joint OPIC (Overseas Private Investment Corporation)-Citibank venture to raise $160 million in private capital to aid small and medium businesses in Lebanon. Bush said the goal was not merely to help businesses recover, "but to flourish, because we believe strongly in the concept of a democracy in Lebanon." The American government has pledged about $230 million – some in military aid and the rest to help rebuild Lebanon following 34 days of intense fighting between Israel and Hizbullah that devastated some neighborhoods and national infrastructure. Bush urged the private sector to help, saying it would "send a clear message to the Lebanese people: ‘We care about you; we want you to live in a free society; we’ve got great hopes for you; we believe in your prime minister, Prime Minister Siniora; and we will back up our words with actions.’"