Hezbollah backs IMF help for Lebanon, but with a warning

BEIRUT (AP) — The leader of Lebanon’s Hezbollah threw his support Monday behind the government in seeking financial assistance from the International Monetary Fund but warned that the terms should be negotiated carefully.

Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah’s comments came four days after the country’s prime minister said Lebanon will seek a rescue deal from the IMF to help the nation find a way out of a crippling financial crisis.

Hezbollah has said that any IMF assistance should not infringe on Lebanon’s sovereignty or put in place policies harming the country’s poor. Opponents of the militant group say Hezbollah is more worried about protecting its political clout.

“We are not against Lebanon requesting assistance from any side in the world,” Nasrallah said in a one-hour televised speech adding that what is not acceptable “is that we go hand over our necks to the International Monetary Fund or any other organization.”

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He added that the “conditions” of any IMF help should be dealt with “great responsibility and strict caution.”

The Lebanese government’s decision to ask for assistance from the IMF came after the local currency crashed in recent weeks losing more than half its value and unemployment reached levels unseen in decades.

Hezbollah’s support is widely seen as key for the current Cabinet.

Nasrallah also blasted Germany for last week’s raids by police of five sites linked to Hezbollah. German authorities announced that they were banning activities by the group’s political wing there.

Nasrallah said his group has no organizational presence in Germany or any other European country, adding that the German move aims to please the militant group’s archenemies Israel and the United States.

“Those people have no links to Hezbollah,” he said about those at the sites raided by German police. He added that any intelligence agency that has proof that these people are linked to Hezbollah should come forward with it.

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