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Published: Tuesday, 3/6/2001

U.S. plans to ship wheat, soybean oil to Lebanon

U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo) has announced that humanitarian aid of 73,000 metric tons of wheat worth $8 million and 3,250 metric tons of soybean oil will be shipped to underdeveloped rural areas of Lebanon.

Miss Kaptur made the announcement during a meeting with Farid Abboud, Lebanon ambassador to the United States, a delegation of nine women leaders from Lebanon visiting the Toledo area, and a local Lebanese-American group.

The Lebanese government will be allowed to sell the wheat and soybean oil in-state. The funds raised from the sale will be used for humanitarian projects in dozens of villages in Lebanon, Miss Kaptur's office said.

“This is a historic event for our country and community because this is the first time we've sent a U.S. commodity to Lebanon for this purpose,” Miss Kaptur said yesterday. “The money raised will be used to help rebuild some of the most war-torn areas of Lebanon. I am for building peace and we're using the power of our food supply to build peace.”

Miss Kaptur said it took a little over a year to get the U.S. government and the Lebanese government to agree on a deal. She said for U.S. farmers, it takes surplus good out of the country.

She said Lebanon receives goods that are badly needed in their country and helps both countries.

John Shousher of Oregon, who accompanied Miss Kaptur on a fact-finding trip to Lebanon two years ago, and who is a native of El Qaraaoun, Lebanon, said he was delighted about the news.

“We are very grateful about this relationship between the two countries,” Mr. Shousher said. “We hope we will be able to meet the expectation of the government.”

According to a report by the relief agency Mercy Corp International, El Qaraaoun needs $502,000 in assistance for things such as land reclamation, road, agricultural needs, and health-center improvements.

The Bekaa Valley, where El Qaraaoun is located, and Miss Kaptur's congressional district are listed as “sister regions” by Sister Cities International.

The wheat and soybean oil deal was authorized by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Miss Kaptur is the ranking Democrat on the U.S. House agricultural appropriations subcommittee.



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