BEIRUT: Lebanon's energy ministry said on Thursday it has begun hiring for a key power sector regulatory body, taking the final step towards unlocking World Bank financing for regional gas import deals to ease long-standing electricity shortages.

The country has signed deals to receive electricity from Jordan and natural gas from Egypt, both via Syria, which would add up to 700 megawatts of power to the country's grid, increasing power supply by several hours.

The World Bank agreed to finance the agreements if Lebanon enacts long-awaited power sector reforms by raising the price of power - a step it completed in November - and start a process to hire members of Electricity Regulatory Authority.

The ministry said it had completed the last condition to unlock international financing for the agreements. A World Bank spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The transmission through war-ravaged Syria also means the deal still requires clearance by the United States for compliance with its Syria sanctions regime, a move that U.S. officials have said could only come after the final approval of the World Bank. (Reporting by Timour Azhari; Editing by Arun Koyyur)