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Last Updated: Friday, 1 September 2006, 09:18 GMT 10:18 UK
Donors make huge Lebanon pledge
Man using cutting tools on damaged bridge in Sidon
The campaign wiped out Lebanon's recent recovery efforts
The Lebanon donor conference in Stockholm has raised more than $940m in pledges of new money, Swedish Foreign Minister Jan Eliasson has said.

The organisers of the aid conference had set a target of $500m.

The new pledges bring the total amount of money raised to help with the rebuilding of Lebanon to $1.2bn.

PM Fouad Siniora told the meeting his country had sustained billions of dollars of damages during the 34-day war between Israel and Hezbollah.

Mr Siniora said Lebanon's recovery from its civil war had been "wiped out in days".

Wide margin

The Lebanese government has previously put the cost of damage at $3.6bn.

It says 15,000 homes were damaged in the conflict and has appealed for $75m for temporary housing and $30m to repair major roads and put up bridges.

LEBANON AID PLEDGES
Total pledged - $940m
Largest donors include:
Qatar - $300m
United States - $234m
Arab Fund - $112m
Saudi Arabia - $60m
European Commission - $54m
United Arab Emirates - $50m
Italy - $38m
Spain - $34m

Ministers from more than 60 countries attended the conference, as well as officials from the UN, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the Red Cross.

Sweden's foreign minister announced the amount of money raised at a press conference in Stockholm saying, "the conference has thus met its objective with a wide margin".

Mr Siniora expressed his "great appreciation" to the donor countries.

"Lots of work has been done during the past week in order to preserve the dignity of the Lebanese, and in order to stop the aggression that was made against them," he said.

At the end of the meeting the participants issued a statement calling on Israel to end its air and sea blockade of Lebanon, calling it "a major impediment to the early recovery process".

Israel imposed the blockade to stop arms reaching Hezbollah militants after fighting with the Lebanese group erupted on 12 July.

Control returned

United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan also called for the blockade to be lifted when he stopped off in Jordan as part of his tour of the Middle East aimed at bolstering the fragile peace between Israel and Hezbollah.

DAMAGE TO LEBANON
Infrastructure 15,000 homes, 78 bridges and 630km of roads damaged
Agriculture Up to $185m of crops, 1m poultry, 25,000 goats and sheep lost
Economy 6% growth (forecast) set to plunge, unemployment up

Mr Annan has now arrived in Syria on the latest leg of his regional tour.

He is to meet the Syrian foreign minister before talks with President Bashar al-Assad on Friday.

Meanwhile, the Israeli army says it has handed back control of one part of its border with Lebanon, near the Israeli town of Metulla, to the Lebanese authorities.

It is the first time since the ceasefire between Israel and Hezbollah that Israeli troops have withdrawn from any part of the border area.

The BBC's Jill McGivering in Jerusalem says that many will see this as a positive move which will help to build confidence during a time of difficult transition from conflict to a more durable peace.

Mr Annan has tried to press Israel to give a definite commitment on when it will withdraw all of its troops, but so far Israeli leaders have refused to agree to a specific plan.

Israel has come in for strong criticism from the UN over its use of cluster bombs during its Lebanon offensive.

"I think those kinds of weapons should not be used in civilian and populated areas," Mr Annan said, urging Israel to give the UN maps of the areas that were bombed so civilians in those areas could be protected and the bombs disarmed.

HAVE YOUR SAY
The Lebanese economy must be encouraged
Graham Jubb, Aleppo, Syria

On Wednesday the UN's humanitarian chief, Jan Egeland, condemned the "completely immoral" way Israel dropped thousands of cluster bombs on Lebanon even as a resolution appeared imminent.

Israel says the weapons it uses are not illegal.

Lebanon has asked for funds to help clear landmines and unexploded cluster bombs, which are preventing farmers returning to their fields.


VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Sweden's foreign minister announces the aid



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