UPDATE 2-Iran reaches 400 mln euro deal with Syria to build a power plant - ISNA

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LONDON, Oct 2 (Reuters) - Iran has struck a deal with Damascus to build a 400 million euro ($460 million) power plant in Syria’s coastal city of Latakia, a potentially lucrative deal for Tehran to deepen its economic role after years of fighting in the Syrian conflict.

Shunned by Western powers, the Syrian government is looking to states such as Iran, Russia and China to play a major role in rebuilding the country, as the war heads toward its seventh year.

Iran has provided critical military support to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government, helping it regain control of swathes of the country. Iran experts say Tehran is now looking to reap a financial dividend.

Iran’s Minister of Energy Reza Ardakanian was quoted as saying by the semi-official ISNA news agency that a memorandum of understanding was signed on Tuesday.

Iran’s state news agency IRNA reported that the MoU was signed by the head of the Iranian power and infrastructure group MAPNA and the head of the Syrian public authority for electricity generation.

The project is to be launched next year, IRNA reported.

“Iranian private firms are keen to participate in energy projects in Syria and reconstruct its electricity grid,” Ardakanian was quoted as saying by IRIB news.

In 2017, Iran and Syria signed an agreement to repair Syria’s power grid. The agreement involved restoring the main control centre for Syria’s electricity grid in the capital Damascus.

Ardakanian said he was hopeful that a second credit line would be launched between the two countries.

Tehran opened a $3.5 billion credit line in 2013, and extended it by $1 billion in 2015, which economists say has helped keep the Syrian economy afloat. ($1 = 0.8674 euros) (Reporting by Bozorgmehr Sharafedin Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg and Louise Heavens)