May 20, 2015 / 7:03 PM / 5 years ago

Syria hopes for new $1 billion credit line from Iran - official

DAMASCUS (Reuters) - Syria hopes to receive a new credit line from Iran worth around $1 billion which it will use to buy basic goods, an assistant to Syria’s minister of economy and foreign trade said on Wednesday.

The comments come a day after Ali Akbar Velayati, a senior adviser to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, met Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus and reiterated Tehran’s backing for the Syrian government.

Tehran is Assad’s most important regional ally and its financial aid has been seen as pivotal to the Syrian government and the economy where the local currency has reached record lows over concerns about military setbacks against insurgents.

Syrian state media said the visit of Velayati, the most senior of three Iranian officials to travel to the Syrian capital in less than a week, yielded agreements on oil, electricity, industry and investment, without giving details.

Asked about whether there would be new credit lines from Iran, Hayan Salman said: “As an economic expectation I believe it will be in the range of $1 billion, God willing.”

He said a previous $3.6 billion credit line from Iran was close to being used up. He said the fresh credit would be used “to secure the flow of essential goods and materials,” for Syria.

Writing by Sylvia Westall in Beirut; Editing by Susan Fenton

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