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Hezbollah: Not against aid, even from IMF, but depends on terms

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Hezbollah does not oppose foreign aid to Lebanon, even from the International Monetary Fund, as long as the help does not impose conditions that harm the national interest, its leader said on Friday.

In a televised speech, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said his Shi’ite movement, which backs the government, refused conditions “that would make the country explode”. He said it was against raising the value-added tax (VAT), particularly for the poor.

“If the conditions do not breach Lebanese sovereignty, or at least do not contradict Lebanese law... Any assistance within logical conditions is possible. There is no problem with this,” Nasrallah said.

Lebanon declared last week it could not pay debt maturities as it faces an unprecedented financial crisis that has weakened the local currency, hiked prices and fueled unrest.

Finance Minister Ghazi Wazni told Reuters on Thursday that the country’s crisis plan would meet IMF recommendations and be ready in weeks. Wazni said any recourse to an IMF program must have political agreement and terms that do not cause suffering.

The heavily armed Iran-backed Hezbollah has said it rejects letting the IMF manage Lebanon’s crisis.

Reporting by Ellen Francis and Laila Bassam; Editing by Leslie Adler and Alex Richardson

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