Jordan seeks stronger ties with Lebanon, PM says

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Jordan will work to strengthen ties with Lebanon, the kingdom’s prime minister told his Lebanese counterpart in Amman on Thursday, despite delays in a major power deal between the two countries

Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati thanked Jordan’s Hirer Al Khasawneh for supporting Amman in helping Beirut “meet the challenges and deepen its stability,” the kingdom’s state news agency reported.

Since US President Joe Biden took office in January last year, Jordan has been trying to improve relations with Lebanon in order to secure more influence in the region.

The US is Jordan’s top donor and has deployed thousands of troops in the kingdom under a military deal. The current American government is seen in Amman as friendlier than its predecessor, which focused on normalization between Arab states and Israel.

Washington backed a deal earlier this year that would see 250 megawatts of Jordanian electricity flow through Syria to Lebanon by March. The deal was widely seen as a political and financial win for Syrian President Bashar Al Assad.

But Lebanon’s Energy Minister Walid Fayad said Wednesday the delay was due to “politics and bureaucracy” and that the World Bank, which was supposed to fund the deal, had announced new terms.

Mr Fayad and did not rule out that US support for the deal may have waned since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine three months ago.

The Lebanese government oversaw general elections in the country last month and is set to be replaced once a new government is formed, a process that could take months.

Historically, Jordan has stayed away from engagement in Lebanon, particularly during the 1975-1990 civil war there.

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Relations cooled after the 2005 assassination of Lebanese statesman Rafik Hariri, who had sought good relations with Jordan and other Arab countries to restore Lebanon’s position as the Middle East‘s business and tourism hub.

The assassination of Hariri prepared the ground for the dominance of Hezbollah, the Iran-backed Shia guerrilla group and political party, over Lebanese politics.

Jordan has refrained from criticizing the group but welcomes its growing influence in Lebanon and the rest of the region.

Updated June 9, 2022 at 2:02 p.m

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