EU wants leading role in Lebanon reconstruction

The European Union on Friday vowed to be a driving force in the reconstruction of war-shattered Lebanon, saying it has credibility from all sides of the conflict. "Finding a comprehensive political solution to the conflict in the Middle East and the reconstruction soon to begin are a test of the European Union's external policy," said Finnish trade and development minister Paula Lehtomaki. Finland currently holds the EU presidency. "The EU has the possibility to play a key role, both in humanitarian assistance and reconstruction, and in finding a political solution, because the EU is the only international actor that has credibility in the eyes of all parties to the conflict," said Lehtomaki, who returned Thursday from a trip to Lebanon and Israel. "The EU will be a leading force in the reconstruction process," she said, adding EU members and its executive Commission have jointly pledged €115 million (US$147 million) in humanitarian aid to Lebanon.