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Global lenders pledge $38 billion aid package for Arab nations

The additional funds nearly double a previous $20 billion promised over the next two years to encourage democratic reforms in Tunisia, Egypt, Morocco and Jordan.

MARSEILLE // The World Bank and several other international lenders promised more money Saturday to encourage democratic reforms in Arab countries, nearly doubling a previous pledge to $38 billion.

That brings to at least $58 billion the amount of money so far promised over the next two years to Tunisia, Egypt, Morocco and Jordan to support countries that have either thrown off their authoritarian regimes or are slowly opening up their systems of government.

In addition to funds promised by the lenders, the Group of Eight - Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Italy, Russia and the U.S. - had pledged $20 billion in May.

French Finance Minister Francois Baroin said Saturday that commitments from those countries had "increased strongly" but he did not specify by how much.

The French contribution more than doubled to $2.7 billion, for instance.

There has been criticism that the funds have been slow in coming. Baroin said everyone was working to hand over the money as quickly as possible.

Libya was also included in Saturday's discussions but is not yet eligible for money. The country's rebels have taken control of most of the country and are working to establish a government.

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