LEBANON-RUSSIA MILITARY AND GAS DEALS




Robert Harneis –TDO- (FRANCE) Russia and Lebanon are to sign a military agreement allowing temporary docking rights for warships and landing rights for aircraft. Russia is to help upgrade the Lebanese army and its equipment.

A government decree on the Russian government’s website for documents and information was announced granting the Russian Ministry of Defense powers to conduct “the necessary talks with the competent authorities in the Lebanese Republic to finalize the agreement.”

The agreement will cover the exchange of information on defense and the strengthening of capabilities in the fields of international security, cooperation in combating terrorism, training of the armed forces, information sharing and the establishment of mechanisms for cooperation between the armies of the two countries in the fields of education, medicine, scientific analysis, publishing, sports and culture, in addition to maritime cooperation and joint action against piracy and terrorism.

The agreement comes at a time when Lebanon has also signed an agreement with Russian company Novatek, France’s Total, and Italian Eni to exploit off-shore gas fields.

George Shaaban adviser to the Prime Minister of Lebanon for Russian affairs said on Friday, "We work for broad engagement with Russian partners in large-scale and promising projects in Lebanon, … This topic was discussed in detail during talks in Sochi between Prime Minister Saad Hariri and President Vladimir Putin last September". Hariri visited Moscow with a large delegation on 11th September 2017 where he met Foreign Secretary Lavrov and Prime Minister Medvedev in Moscow and Vladimir Putin in Sochi.

"Russia’s assistance in development of the oil and gas sector is critical for the Lebanese state," the adviser said. In particular, it is planned that Russia will later help to build a liquefied natural gas production facility on board of a floating platform near the Lebanese coasts, he added.

According to terms of the contract, Novatek and its partners will be granted a right to perform exploration during 5-10 years. If commercial reserves are proved, the consortium members should present a development plan for them to the government of Lebanon and will be able to receive a right to tap gas and oil during 25 years after its approval with an extension option.

At the same time US Acting Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs David Satterfield arrived in Beirut for talks on the situation on the Israeli border and Block 9, informed political according to Central News Agency. The agency added that, according to their sources, Satterfield would try to convince Lebanese officials to wait before resorting to the UN Security Council to resolve a dispute with Israel over oil exploration in that sector.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is expected in Lebanon between 11th and 15th February, as part of his trip taking in Turkey, Kuwait, Jordan and Egypt, according to the UAE-based National. It is the first trip to Lebanon by a US secretary of State since John Kerry in 2014.