Alwaght- Lebanese Minister for Foreign Affairs Gebran Bassil has says his country is under immense pressure to cancel a lucrative gas deal with Russia.
Speaking on Friday ahead of his talks with Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov in Moscow, Bassil revealed that, prior to the current crisis, Lebanon was "almost at a threshold of the first-ever contract to develop shale-gas fields with... Russian companies." However, a campaign to hinder the deal "under various pretexts" is now underway, he said.
"Some countries are trying to use certain forces to remove the head of Lebanon," he said.
"The same forces that unleashed the war in Syria and those who are feeding into terrorists are now trying to damage Lebanon," Bassil said in an interview with Interfax news agency. The minister added he would not specify which countries those forces represent.
Stating that a "campaign to intimidate Lebanon" had been launched, Bassil said that Beirut hopes Moscow would intensify its efforts aimed at "providing a balance of forces" in the region. Russia has always played a "great role" in fighting terrorism and de-escalating conflicts, he added.
"We count on further bilateral cooperation, and also on [working] on other issues, including restoring [peace] in Syria," Bassil told Russia's senior diplomat. Sergey Lavrov said Moscow stands for solving Lebanese issues through legal means, but without interference from the outside. Stressing that Russia wholly supports Lebanon's "sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity," the head of the Russian foreign ministry said that "the most important thing" for the Middle-Eastern country is to resolve issues "through dialogue" and considering the interests of all leading political forces.
Earlier this month, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri abruptly resigned in a surprise announcement made during a visit to Saudi Arabia. The politician also accused Iran and Lebanon-based group Hezbollah of a "desire to destroy the Arab world." Riyadh's role in the ongoing Lebanese political crisis remains obscure, but the president of Lebanon, Michel Aoun, has stated that Hariri is being "detained" by the Saudis.