Lebanon is preparing to send a delegation to Iran for talks on acquiring “free fuel” to ease its power outages, without being exposed to US sanctions.
Two Lebanese government sources said on Wednesday that Iran's ambassador in Beirut, Mojtaba Amani, has proposed an Iranian "gift" of fuel to Lebanon.
If a deal is reached between Tehran and Beirut, the fuel deliveries would be Iran's first directly to the country after it previously sent some to its ally Hezbollah, a powerful armed group that is part of Lebanon's coalition government.
Lebanon has been struggling with outages for decades but its economic meltdown since 2019 has drained state reserves and slowed down imports of fuel for government plants, leaving most of the country with just one or two hours of state-provided electricity per day. The outages have forced households to rely on subscriptions to private generators that have skyrocketed as global fuel prices spiked.
Lebanon has natural gas fields in the Mediterranean Sea but a boundary dispute with Israel has so far prevented gas extraction that could help its economy.
The delivery of free fuel to another country is a sensitive issue in Iran where an economic crisis has impoverished millions of people, while the government has failed to reach a nuclear deal with the West, which could end economic sanctions imposed by the United States since 2018.