Lebanon Denies Plans to Negotiate with Iran for Fuel Import
Lebanese Energy Minister Raymond Ghajar denied on Thursday a plan to negotiate with Iran for the import of fuel, a day after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned of sanctions on Beirut if it takes oil from Tehran.
Pompeo’s warnings came after Hezbollah chief 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.
“There is no plan at present to negotiate with Iran about importing fuel. Discussions are with Iraq,” Ghajar said, referring to talks with the Iraqi government on possible fuel supplies.
Electricity supplies in Lebanon will improve within 48 hours, and that the rationing will drop because a tanker has arrived to supply power plants with oil.
On Thursday, a Hezbollah source said Pompeo’s statements are “flagrant and an unaccepted intervention in Lebanon’s economic choices.”
The source told LBCI TV channel the US Secretary of State’s comments confirm what Nasrallah announced earlier about Washington’s economic, financial and monetary policy of siege and sanctions against Lebanon.
He said, “Lebanon would not remain hostage to the US practices, but should decide on the direction of his choices that secure the needs of his people from fuel or other materials.”
Following his visit to Beirut this week, Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, commander of the US Central Command (USCENTCOM), has stressed the importance of the strong partnership between the US and the Lebanese army.
The Lebanese have rushed to buy candles in bulk, turning to traditional kerosene lamps and throwing away rotten food because of prolonged power cuts that plunged the country into darkness this week.