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Qatar plans $10 bln in Egypt projects – paper

Qatar is drawing up potential projects worth at least $10 billion to help Egypt's economy after the popular uprising that ousted President Hosni Mubarak in February, al-Ahram newspaper reported on Tuesday.

May 25, 2011 3:46 by

Egypt has been asking donors and the International Monetary Fund to help to bridge an estimated $10-12 billion balance of payments gap for the fiscal year that begins on July 1, economists say.

In the last week, Saudi Arabia, the United States and other international donors have also pledged assistance to Egypt.

The uprising caused tourism and investment revenue to dry up at a time when high popular expectations have increased the pressure on the budget.

Al-Ahram quoted Qatar’s ambassador to Cairo as saying a Qatari delegation would hold talks in Cairo on Saturday to follow up on projects broached during a visit by Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, earlier this month.

“I believe these projects, when implemented, will surpass $10 billion, and they will be productive products in Egypt,” al-Ahram quoted Ambassdor Saleh Al-Buainein as saying.

Implementation of the projects would begin immediately, he said. Buainein said Qatar was also mulling purchases of Egyptian treasury bonds, an idea that had been brought up by Egypt’s Finance Minister Samir Radwan during a recent visit to Qatar.

“The Egyptian and Qatari finance ministers are working to agree on the suggested amount,” al-Ahram cited him as saying.

Samir Radwan had earlier mentioned that Qatar’s government was prepared to finance a port in the western outskirts of Alexandria at Malahat, which it said would be the world’s largest, al-Ahram said.

Saudi Arabia has pledged a $4 billion aid package to Egypt that includes a $1 billion deposit at the Central Bank of Egypt and $500 million in bond purchases, al-Ahram newspaper reported on Sunday.

On Thursday, U.S. President Barack Obama said he would relieve Egypt of up to $1 billion in debt and guarantee another $1 billion in borrowing to finance infrastructure and job creation.

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development said on Saturday it would explore how to direct funds to Egypt and other Arab states in the same way it supported communist states after the fall of the Iron Curtain more than two decades ago. (Reporting by Patrick Werr; editing by Stephen Nisbet)

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