SULAIMANI (ESTA) — Iraq and Lebanon signed a preliminary agreement on Friday that would see the latter trade its medical expertise for Iraqi fuel supplies, Lebanese state media reported.
Caretaker health minister Hamad Hassan and his Iraqi counterpart Hassan al-Tamimi signed “a framework agreement… that includes [the supply of] oil in exchange for medical and hospital services,” Lebanese National News Agency (NNA) said, according to AFP.
Lebanon’s state-run electricity company faces dire cash shortages as Beirut grapples with its worst economic crisis since the 1975-1990 civil war, AFP reported.
OPEC’s second-biggest oil producer, Iraq, suffers from a chronic lack of drugs and medical care, as COVID-19 cases have soared in recent weeks. Decades of war and poor investment have also left its hospitals in bad shape.
Caretaker Lebanese energy minister Raymond Ghajar told AFP that Lebanon would receive 500,000 tons of Iraqi oil annually according to the accord signed in Beirut.
AFP cited the Iraqi health minister as saying the agreement included cooperation in training and hospital administration, with Lebanese experts and specialized teams to be involved in managing new facilities in Iraq.
Power cuts have been common in the country for decades, but Ghajar warned in March that Lebanon would plunge into “total darkness” by the end of the month if no money was secured to buy fuel for power stations.