Hezbollah leader says dollar injections needed, accuses U.S. of deepening shortage
BEIRUT (Reuters) - Lebanese Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said Tuesday that dollar injections are needed to support the pound currency and accused the United States of preventing the country from being hit by the crisis to reach.
A dip in the pound currency last week sparked new protests in Lebanon and prompted the government to announce that the central bank would start injecting scarce dollars into the market this week to reverse its case.
The central bank governor, Riyadh Salameh, said Tuesday the central bank is working with money changers to gradually lower the dollar price, but has not commented on the fact that dwindling reserves have been used to stimulate the pound.
In a television speech, Narallah said the United States had prevented the US dollar from reaching Lebanon, which exacerbated a deficit that drove prices up.
"On the pretext that dollars are collected on the (Lebanese) market and brought to Syria, the Americans are preventing dollars from entering Lebanon, even for the Lebanese market, which is in the hands of the Lebanese central bank," said Nasrallah.
The local currency has lost more than 60% of its value since the end of last year when Lebanon was caught in a financial crisis that has pushed the government to seek help from the International Monetary Fund.
At the ongoing IMF talks, Narallah said that it could take months and that there could be "talks" that could take a year and asked, "Can the country stand a year?"
Nasrallah commented on the harsh new US sanctions that will come into force against Syria this month, calling it the "last American weapon". Syria's allies would not allow sanctions to defeat Syria.
(Reporting by Laila Bassam and Eric Knecht; editing by Sandra Maler and Jonathan Oatis)
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