The Lebanese government ended on Saturday a rupture in official relations with Syria, with a high-ranking ministerial delegation visiting Damascus and holding talks to obtain its approval to allow the entry of gas and electric energy from Egypt and Jordan through Syrian territories.
Lebanon’s deputy Prime Minister, Zeina Akar, led the first official government visit to Syria since the outbreak of the conflict there, as Lebanon had officially followed the principle of “disassociation,” amid major divisions between the political forces over the relationship with Damascus and Hezbollah’s participation in the fighting alongside the Syrian regime forces.
Two weeks after the announcement of the Lebanese presidency of Washington’s approval to help Lebanon import electric energy and gas from Egypt and Jordan, through Syria, the Lebanese delegation headed to Damascus to meet with Foreign Minister Faisal Miqdad and Minister of Oil Bassam Tohme.
In a press conference following the meeting, the Secretary-General of the Lebanese-Syrian Higher Council, Nasri Khoury, said: “The Lebanese side demanded Syria’s assistance to Lebanon in obtaining Egyptian gas and Jordanian electricity through Syrian territory. The Syrian side affirmed Syria’s readiness to meet that request.”
The two sides agreed to follow up on technical matters through a joint technical team.
Tohme told reporters that the goal of the joint team was to determine the “readiness and safety of the infrastructure,” which suffered “significant damage” during the conflict.
Following the acute fuel crisis in Lebanon, the US effort led to an initiative to draw electrical energy from Jordan through Syria, by providing quantities of Egyptian gas to Jordan, enabling it to produce additional quantities of electricity to be placed on the grid linking Jordan with Lebanon via Syria.
The initiative also provides for facilitating the transport of Egyptian gas through Jordan and Syria, to reach northern Lebanon.
A similar agreement allows Egyptian gas to reach Lebanon to operate gas-fired power stations, which have been out of service for 11 years.
The Arab Gas Pipeline extends by land from Egypt to Syria and Lebanon via Jordan, and crosses from the Homs region in central Syria, all the way to Deir Ammar in northern Lebanon.