Hof Reportedly in Beirut to Prevent Rise of Maritime Shebaa Farms, U.S. Embassy Denies
U.S. official Frederic Hof is making routine visits to Beirut to follow up the dispute between Lebanon and Israel on their maritime borders, Western diplomatic sources in Beirut said Friday.
The sources told As Safir daily that Hof is visiting Lebanon along with cartographers in an expression of Washington’s interest in solving the feud over oil and natural fields and setting the stage for possible U.S. investments in the sector in the future.
But the U.S. embassy denied the report, saying Hof has no plans to visit Beirut at present.
“The U.S. notes that Lebanon (in October 2010) and Israel (in July 2011) have submitted to the United Nations claims to their adjacent exclusive economic zone (EEZ) limits. It is entirely normal in the practice of international boundary-making that their claims differ,” the embassy said in a statement.
“Any claims that the United States has taken sides in this issue are patently false,” it said.
“We are not a party to this issue,” the embassy said. However, it added that “the United States is prepared to assist in any manner the two sides agree is appropriate.”
As Safir’s sources said Hof’s main objective is “to prevent the rise of new maritime Shebaa farms” and use oil as a source of investment and stability.
The report comes as Lebanon’s ambassador to the U.N. Nawaf Salam accused Israel on Thursday of unilaterally placing buoys inside Lebanese territorial waters.
He told a Security Council session on Thursday that UNIFIL should find a solution to the issue and that the U.N. should prevent any aggression on Lebanese territorial waters and rights in its Economic Zone.