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Iran suggests fuel shipments to Lebanon will not be free

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Iranian Oil Minister Javad Owji

Remarks by Iranian Oil Minister Javad Owji published in the local media suggest that fuel shipments offered by Iran to Lebanon to ease power shortages in the Arab country will not be free and Beirut may have to pay for the shipments.

Owji said on Thursday that |Iran had received payments for its exports of fuel to Lebanon last year as he sought to deny reports that planned new shipments will be in the form of a donation.

“We had exports of fuel to Lebanon last year and we were dully paid,” Owji was quoted as saying by the ISNA news agency as he was speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a petroleum fair in Tehran.

The remarks came after Lebanese authorities said they will take delivery of fuel shipments from Iran to supply them to power plants that have run at low capacity in recent months because of financial problems.

This would be a first official export of fuel from Iran to Lebanon as a previous shipment was delivered to the Lebanese energy authorities via Syria and through the coordination of the Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah.

Iranian embassy in Beirut said earlier this week that Iran’s fuel ships could be in Lebanon within the next two weeks.

The embassy authorities said earlier this month that the Iran had offered Lebanon a gift of fuel to help the country tackle its electricity shortages.

However, they did not mention that the fuel shipments would be free and in the form of a donation, as reported by some Lebanese and Western media outlets.

Hadi Beiginejad, a member of Iranian parliament’s energy committee, said on Thursday that Iran would be properly paid for fuel exports to Lebanon.

“These reports that we provide this country (Lebanon) with free fuel are definitely untrue,” Beiginejad told the ILNA news agency.

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