DAMASCUS (Dispatches) –
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.
Lebanon is suffering energy shortages that have forced even essential services including hospitals to shut down or scale back operations.
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.
U.S. sanctions on Damascus are a complicating factor in any effort to help Lebanon via Syria.
Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad received the Lebanese delegation at the border on arrival on Saturday, which also included the ministers of energy and finance. The visit is the first such official visit since the foreign-backed war broke out in Syria 10 years ago.
After meeting Mekdad, the group travelled on to Damascus, where state television announced the beginning of talks at the foreign ministry.
Lebanon has maintained diplomatic ties with Syria but it adopted a policy of dissociation from the conflict since it started in 2011, which put a dampener on official dealings.
Lebanese security officials and politicians have made several visits to Syria in recent years, but almost exclusively in a personal capacity or on behalf of political parties.