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Hezbollah says it is attempting to secure Iranian fuel supplies for Lebanon

In televised speech, Hassan Nasrallah also described US envoy to Lebanon as a 'military ruler' who is inciting tensions
Iran will announce its official position on any fuel deal at the appropriate moment, said Nasrallah (AFP)

Hezbollah said on Tuesday that it was in discussions about the possibility of Iran supplying the country with refined oil products in exchange for Lebanese pounds.

Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of the Iran-backed movement, said a "calm discussion" was underway with the Beirut government over the idea, which would ease the pressure on Lebanon's hard currency reserves.

The country is suffering an acute financial crisis and hard currency liquidity crunch, compounded by the coronavirus pandemic. 

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The Lebanese pound has lost some 80 percent of its value since October, when the long-brewing crisis came to a head, sending prices soaring.

"We started a discussion... to see where this option can go," Nasrallah said in a televised speech. 

"This track is moving... What's the result going to be? I don't know. But we have to try," he said. 

Iran will announce its official position on the matter at the appropriate moment, he added.

Tensions between Iran and the United States have ratcheted up since 2018, when Washington withdrew from a 2015 nuclear pact between Iran and six major powers and US President Donald Trump reimposed sanctions on Iran, hammering vital oil exports

Nasrallah on Tuesday blamed the US for compounding Lebanon's economic downturn, accusing it of preventing dollars from entering the cash-strapped country and banning investment.

US envoy acting as 'military ruler'

Nasrallah also criticised the US ambassador to Lebanon, Dorothy Shea, for what he described as interference in the country's affairs.

The Hezbollah leader blasted Shea as a "military ruler" who was inciting tensions after she accused the party last month of stealing billions from state coffers.

In an interview with Saudi-owned news channel Al-Hadath, Shea also said the US was reviewing Lebanon Prime Minister Hassan Diab's government's links with Hezbollah, considered by the US as a terrorist organisation.

Hezbollah is the only group to have kept its weapons since the end of Lebanon's civil war on the grounds of defending the country against Israel.

"Since the new ambassador arrived in Lebanon... she has dealt with Lebanon as though she is a military ruler, or a high commissary, as though she has authority," Nasrallah said.

"Every day she attacks [Hezbollah]... she insults and offends us," Nasrallah said, criticising the government for keeping silent.

"She is pushing the Lebanese towards infighting, sedition and civil strife," he said.

Nasrallah said Hezbollah lawmakers in parliament will ask the foreign ministry to summon Shea and reprimand her.

Hezbollah and its allies command a majority in parliament and the cabinet.

'Sedition and strife'

Shea was already summoned for a meeting with Foreign Minister Nassif Hitti late last month following her interview with Al-Hadath.

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Hitti emphasised the importance of media freedom and the right to free expression during the meeting, the ministry said in a statement, while Shea said the page had been turned on the incident.

Shea's remarks prompted a south Lebanon judge to issue a non-binding and now-defunct order banning the Lebanese press from reporting her comments. 

Shea is "interfering in appointments and in government and in the economy," Nasrallah said.

"She is attacking the Lebanese and inciting them towards sedition and strife."