(Adds context, background)
BEIRUT, Jan 14 (Reuters) – The U.S. ambassador to Lebanon has told the Lebanese government it should not fear a U.S. sanctions law over its plans to supply energy to the region, the Lebanese government said on Friday. office of Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati.
Lebanon, which is in the grip of a deep financial crisis, is seeking to import energy from other Arab states to alleviate a severe electricity shortage. However, the supplies would have to transit through Syria, which is subject to a US sanctions law.
U.S. Ambassador Dorothy Shea delivered Mikati a letter from the U.S. Treasury Department “to address some of the Lebanese authorities’ concerns regarding regional energy deals that the U.S. helped facilitate between Lebanon, Jordan, and Iran. Egypt,” the statement from the Prime Minister’s Office read. .
Under a plan agreed between Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and Syria in September, Egyptian gas would be transported to Lebanon via Jordan and Syria to help boost Lebanon’s electricity production, which now provides at best a few hours of electricity per day.
The plan, which has US backing, aims to pump the gas through an Arab pipeline established some 20 years ago.
However, the plan has been complicated by US sanctions against the Syrian government under President Bashar al-Assad, prompting Lebanese officials to ask Washington to grant an exemption. Damascus said it was ready to cooperate.
(Reporting by Nayera Abdallah; Editing by Edmund Blair)
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