Iran Says Ready to Sell Lebanon Fuel if Its Govt. Asks
Iran said Sunday it is willing to sell fuel to Lebanon's government to help ease shortages, days after a first delivery of Iranian fuel arranged by Hizbullah entered the country.
"If the Lebanese government wants to buy fuel from us to resolve the problems faced by its population, we will supply it," foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said.
He told a news conference that the Islamic republic had already sold fuel to a "Lebanese businessman," without naming Hizbullah.
Tehran-backed Hizbullah promised in August to bring fuel from Iran to alleviate the shortages sowing chaos in Lebanon, in defiance of U.S. sanctions.
On Thursday, dozens of tanker trucks carrying Iranian fuel arranged by Hizbullah arrived in Lebanon and were due to fill the tanks of a fuel distribution firm owned by Hizbullah, which has been under US sanctions.
Lebanon's new Prime Minister Najib Miqati had told CNN the shipment "was not approved by the Lebanese government."
He added that he was "saddened" by "the violation of Lebanese sovereignty."
Hizbullah is a major political force in Lebanon and the only group to have kept its arsenal of weapons following the end of the country's 1975-1990 civil war.
Lebanon is facing one of its worst-ever economic crises, with more than three out of four Lebanese considered to be under the poverty line.
Last year, it defaulted on its foreign debt and can no longer afford to import key goods, including petrol and diesel.
Mains electricity are only available a handful of hours a day, while the Lebanese are struggling to find petrol, bread and medicine.