Lebanese PM calls on Italy to increase investment in Lebanon

Lebanese PM calls on Italy to increase investment in Lebanon
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, left, shakes hands with his Lebanese counterpart Saad Hariri after a joint press conference, at the Government House in Beirut, Lebanon, Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)

BEIRUT (AP) — Lebanon’s Prime Minister has called on Italian companies to invest in his country as it seeks to address deepening economic challenges.

Saad Hariri met with his Italian counterpart, Giuseppe Conte, in Beirut on Thursday and said that “the coming period in Lebanon is a period of work … with many investment opportunities.”

Italy is a traditional trading partner of Lebanon, has invested in its gas and oil sector and also supports Lebanese military and security forces. Rome has over 1,000 peacekeepers in the U.N. force monitoring the cease-fire with Israel.

Hariri’s government hopes to unlock around billion in soft loans and grants pledged by international donors at a conference in Paris last year.

Hariri said he’s “convinced that Lebanon can be a regional center for the Italian private sector.”