Don't fear sanctions over energy supply plans, US tells Lebanon

Ambassador Dorothy Shea handed Lebanese PM Najib Mikati a letter from the US Treasury allaying fears

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The US ambassador to Lebanon has told the Lebanese government it should not worry about the effects of a sanctions law on Syria as it plans to import energy and supplies from across the region, the office of Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati said on Friday.

Lebanon, which is grappling with a deep financial crisis, is looking to import energy from fellow Arab states to ease an acute power shortage, but supplies would have to transit through Syria, which is subject to a US sanctions law.

US Ambassador Dorothy Shea handed Mr Mikati a letter from the US Treasury Department “to answer some of the concerns the Lebanese authorities had regarding regional energy agreements that the United States helped facilitate between Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt”, the statement from the prime minister's office said.

Ms Shea said the letter “represents forward momentum and a major event as we continue to make progress towards more sustainable and cleaner energy to help address the energy crisis facing the Lebanese people”, Lebanon's National News Agency reported.

Under a plan agreed to by Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and Syria in September, Egyptian gas will be piped to Lebanon via Jordan and Syria to help boost Lebanon's power grid, which now delivers a few hours a day of electricity at best.

The plan, which has US backing, aims to pump the gas through a pipeline established about 20 years ago.

However, the plan has been complicated by US sanctions on the Syrian government, led by President Bashar Al Assad, prompting Lebanese officials to ask Washington to grant an exemption.

Updated: January 14, 2022, 3:14 PM