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Iran says ready to sell oil to Lebanon following first delivery to Hezbollah

Iran's foreign ministry said they had already supplied oil to a 'Lebanese businessman' as the country's fuel crisis continues
A Hezbollah flag pictured in the foreground, as tankers carrying Iranian fuel arrive at al-Ain in Hermel in east Lebanon's Bekaa Valley on 16 September 2021 (AFP)

Iran said on Sunday it is willing to sell oil directly to the Lebanese government in order to help with the country's ongoing fuel and economy crisis.

The Islamic Republic's foreign ministry made the comments after the first delivery of Iranian fuel arranged by Hezbollah entered the country on Thursday.

"If the Lebanese government wants to buy fuel from us to resolve the problems faced by its population, we will supply it," foreign ministry spokesperson Saeed Khatibzadeh said.

He told a news conference that the country had already sold fuel to a "Lebanese businessman", without naming Hezbollah.

Tehran-backed Hezbollah promised in August to bring fuel from Iran to alleviate the shortages sowing chaos in Lebanon, in defiance of US sanctions.

On Thursday, dozens of tanker trucks carrying Iranian fuel arranged by Hezbollah arrived in Lebanon and were due to fill the tanks of a fuel distribution firm owned by Hezbollah, which has been under US sanctions.

'Not approved'

Lebanon's new prime minister, Najib Mikati, had told CNN the shipment "was not approved by the Lebanese government".

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He was "saddened" by "the violation of Lebanese sovereignty".

Hezbollah 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 1975-90 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 is only available a few hours a day, while the Lebanese are struggling to find petrol, bread and medicine.