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US backs plan to bring badly-needed gas to Lebanon from Syria

lebanese in syria
Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal al Mekdad at news conference with the delegation from Lebanese government

The US has backed a plan to bring desperately needed gas to Lebanon from Syria.

Syria said on Saturday that it welcomed Lebanon’s request to import Egyptian gas for energy generation via its territory after Lebanese ministers made the highest level visit to Damascus in years.

The United States has said it is in talks with Egypt, Jordan and the World Bank to help find solutions to Lebanon’s energy crisis. The Lebanese presidency said last month Washington had decided to help through this plan.

Lebanon is suffering energy shortages that have forced even essential services including hospitals to shut down or scale back operations. The crisis is the result of a wider financial meltdown that has devastated the economy since 2019.

The delegation, led by Zeina Akkar, who holds several positions in Lebanon’s caretaker government including the foreign minister, aimed to pave the way for a U.S.-backed plan to ease the power shortages in Lebanon by transmitting electricity via the Syrian grid.

“The Syrian side welcomed the request and assured it was ready to oblige it,” Nasri Khoury, secretary general of the Lebanese Syrian Higher Council, said in a brief statement after the meeting.

The plan involves using Egyptian gas to generate electricity in Jordan that will then be transmitted via Syria to Lebanon.

US sanctions on Damascus are a complicating factor in any effort to help Lebanon via Syria, but congressmen visiting Beirut this week have said Washington is looking at ways to urgently deal with those hurdles.

US ambassador to Lebanon Dorothy Shea has also said there was a will to make the plan happen.

Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad received the Lebanese delegation at the border on arrival Saturday, which also included the ministers of energy and finance.

Lebanese government officials had mostly avoided Syria since war began there in 2011 as Beirut adopted a policy of staying out of regional conflicts, even as the Shi’ite group Hezbollah fought in support of Damascus.

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