Letter: Lebanon: blighted peace in Beirut; peril for Israel; drought in Galilee; double standards in the West

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Sir: For the last four years I have been a regular visitor to Beirut and Lebanon, at first to look at reconstruction projects and in the last three years seconded to the DTI as an export promoter, trying to encourage British companies to return to the country or to look for opportunities for the first time.

I was immensely encouraged by the way that the country had returned to normal and the way that companies from the UK were beginning to become established. There was a general feeling of enthusiasm from all of us to rebuild this beautiful country and the firm belief that the horrors of war were over. It was an exciting place to be. This good will and confidence of these companies has probably been severely damaged in a matter of moments by these recent tragic events.

These Lebanese people, who have suffered so much for so long, believed that the suffering inflicted by others outside Lebanon for their own ends was all over and that a normal life was to be enjoyed once again. The events of the last few days have shown otherwise.

I trust that the stoicism of the Lebanese people enables them to maintain their course of reconstruction, that the aggressors and their supporters return to more normal forms of electioneering and that our British companies continue to support the reconstruction of that country and are not deflected from their original goals.

James Lawday