Russia’s Lavrov meets Hezbollah delegation to talk about Lebanon

The Russian foreign minister met Hezbollah political figures who made a rare visit to Moscow

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Russia's foreign minister discussed the situation in Lebanon and the Middle East on Monday with a delegation of four Hezbollah members who paid a rare visit to Moscow.

The US imposed sanctions on some members of the delegation for belonging to a terrorist group.

The visit comes as Lebanon is mired in its worst economic crisis in decades and is stuck in a political stalemate over the formation of a new Cabinet.

Russia and Iran-backed Hezbollah joined the conflict in Syria fighting alongside President Bashar Al Assad's forces and helped tip the balance of power in his favour.

Russia's Foreign Ministry said Sergey Lavrov met the head of Hezbollah's parliamentary bloc, Mohammad Raad, but did not give any details about the meeting.

The Hezbollah politician was quoted by the group's Al Manar TV station as saying that the 40-minute sit down was a "friendly and frank meeting".

It said that they discussed the situation in Lebanon and how to "strengthen stability in Lebanon and Syria and the achievements that were made against terrorists".

The Syrian government, Russia and Hezbollah refer to some insurgent groups in Syria as terrorists.

Mr Raad said that a new government should be formed quickly in Lebanon because this was "the key for stability and to begin solving the crisis".

Russia has recently been more active in dealing with Lebanon and last week Mr Lavrov met Lebanon's Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri.

Lebanon's economic and financial crisis began in late 2019. It was made worse by the Covid-19 pandemic and a blast at Beirut port last August that killed dozens of people and wounded thousands.

The government led by Hassan Diab, who was prime minister at the time, resigned six days after the explosion on August 4, which involved nearly 3,000 tonnes of ammonium nitrate, a highly explosive material used in fertiliser.

Mr Hariri was chosen to form a new Cabinet in late October but so far political bickering and disagreements between him and President Michel Aoun have caused delays.

On Monday, the Lebanese currency hit a record low, with the US dollar selling for 13,200 Lebanese pounds.

Since the middle of last week, the currency has been hitting record lows almost every day, causing protests.

The international community said it would not give Lebanon financial assistance before major reforms were introduced to fight widespread corruption in the country.

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