Lebanon signs energy exploration deal with Iran

Beirut's signing of agreement may violate UN sanctions against Tehran; Iranian parliamentary delegation tours Lebanese border with Israel.

By OREN KESSLER
July 22, 2011 03:02
1 minute read.
The Iranian and Lebanese flags.

Iran Lebanon flags. (photo credit: Raheb Homavandi / Reuters)

 
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Lebanon’s cabinet on Wednesday approved a memorandum of understanding with Iran to help Beirut pursue oil and gas oil exploration, a Lebanese government source told the Beirut-based Daily Star newspaper.

“The cabinet approved a [memorandum] between the Lebanese and Iranian energy ministries,” Information Minister Walid Daouq told reporters.

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Lebanon’s cabinet is dominated by members of Hezbollah’s March 8 coalition. The Islamist movement’s Al-Manar satellite channel reported the agreement to be worth $50 million.

Lebanon has threatened to complain to the UN over the recent maritime border demarcation between Israel and Cyprus, which allows the two countries to exploit natural resources within their respective areas of sovereignty.

In signing the agreement, however, Lebanon may be violating UN Security Council sanctions against the Islamic Republic and could incur a condemnation from the world body, the Ya Libnan website reported.

Meanwhile, an Iranian parliamentary delegation toured Lebanon’s border with Israel, the Daily Star reported, including a stop at the now-closed Fatima Gate between the neighboring states.

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The five-member delegation reportedly visited the gate – a border crossing during Israel’s occupation of southern Lebanon that closed in 2000 – shortly after Israeli troops conducted repair work on the border fence. The Iranians then reportedly drove to Khiam, a former Israeli detention center in southern Lebanon.

Air strikes in the 2006 war severely damaged the former prison, which has since become a popular Hezbollah-run museum displaying military vehicles captured during the conflict.

“During the morning tour, the delegation inspected a number of towns in southern Lebanon as well as roads that Iran helped build following the 2006 war,” the newspaper reported. “Iran has carried out between 40 and 50 projects across southern Lebanon, including the establishment of new roads and mosques.”

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