Lebanon Not Planning to Negotiate With Iran on Fuel Imports -Minister

Lebanese Energy Minister Raymond Ghajar poses for a picture during an interview with Reuters in Beirut, Lebanon May 20, 2020. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir

BEIRUT, July 9– Lebanon currently has no plan to negotiate with Iran for the import of fuel, energy minister Raymond Ghajar said on Thursday after the leader of the Tehran-backed Hezbollah group said it was talking to the Lebanese government about the idea.

Hezbollah’s Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said on Tuesday a “calm discussion” was underway with the government over the idea of Lebanon buying refined products from Iran in Lebanese pounds, easing the pressure on Beirut’s hard currency reserves.

Lebanon’s Hezbollah Talks to Government About Iran Fuel Idea

Lebanon is suffering an acute financial crisis and hard currency liquidity crunch. The Lebanese pound has lost some 80% of its value since October, when the long-brewing crisis came to a head.

“There is no plan to negotiate with Iran at present about importing fuel and the current discussion is with Iraq,” Ghajar said, referring to talks with the Iraqi government over possible fuel supplies.

Referring to Nasrallah’s comments, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday taking oil from Iran would be unacceptable. “It would be sanctioned product for sure, and we’ll do everything we can to make sure that Iran cannot continue to sell crude oil anywhere, including to Hezballah in the region…,” he said.

(Reporting by Tom Perry Editing by Mark Heinrich)