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Lebanon finalizes EBRD membership after two year standstill

LONDON, July 13 (Reuters) - It took almost two years, but Lebanon has finalized its membership of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development the bank said on Thursday.

It applied to become a member in July 2015, saying that the development bank's support would help it boost sustainable growth and strengthen the economy.

Lebanon has seen refugees flood across its border to escape the war in Syria, putting a heavy strain on resources in a country already struggling to overcome internal divisions and long periods of political paralysis.

Alain Bifani, director general of the country's Ministry of Finance tweeted: "After two years of perseverance, #Lebanon is finally a member of #EBRD! Congratulations #Lebanon, #EBRD, and team!!!"

The EBRD confirmed it had received an e-mail from Lebanon that the official steps had now been completed.

It means it should be able to start lending and working in the country in around a month's time once it receives a written version of membership documents and its shareholder governments rubberstamp the next step of becoming a "country of operation."

Established in 1991 after the collapse of communism in eastern Europe, the EBRD's goal is to support market economies and the development of the private sector.

It expanded its remit to the southern and eastern Mediterranean in the wake of the Arab uprisings of 2011, which swept away four long-time autocrats and saw some countries slip into war.

It began initially by investing in Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia and has carried out a number of projects in Jordan and Turkey focused on the migration crisis. (Reporting by Marc Jones; Editing by Alison Williams)