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Think Tanks Expect B&R Initiative to Help Middle East Reconstruction

Two think tanks have proposed the incorporation of the Middle East reconstruction into the Belt and Road Initiative to help unstable, war-torn area revive quickly when the political situation stabilizes.

The Middle East Reconstruction Initiative (MERCI) was put forward by Hong Kong-based think tank China Energy Fund Committee (CEFC) and the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security (IAGS) with its headquarters in Washington.

"Problems in the Middle East cannot be solved by military action alone," Patrick Ho, CEFC deputy chairman and secretary general, said during a press conference.

Only by changing the underlying social-economic conditions in the area can hopes for a bright future restored, homes rebuilt and economies revitalized, Ho said, expecting the Belt and Road Initiative to play a major role in the process.

With its focus on infrastructure, the initiative will create jobs, boost economies and bring peace and stability, Ho said.

Despite chaos and uncertainty in the area, the think tanks believe preparations should be made for fast reconstruction when peace finally comes.

"Every war comes to an end at some point and then reconstruction will be rebuild infrastructure, such as roads, and use capital efficiently," said Gal Luft, co-director of the IAGS.

MERCI aims to find ways to secure more support under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative, draw resources from multilateral lenders and private companies, and seek solutions to the region's political and economic challenges.

"China and the Middle East have broad prospects to jointly build the Belt and Road, and there will be enormous business opportunities. The two sides are complementary." Liu Baolai, former Chinese Ambassador to Jordan and United Arab Emirates, said.

The cooperation has already shown results, Liu said, citing China-built expressways in Turkey and refineries in Saudi Arabia.

Of the 77 members of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, ten come from the Middle East. China will provide loans of up to $35 billion to the area and set up investment funds worth $20 billion with UAE and Qatar.

(Xinhua News Agency May 17, 2017) 

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