Report: Border Talks on Hariri’s agenda during Washington Visit

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During his visit to Washington next week and his upcoming meeting with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Prime Minister Saad Hariri will discuss the US role to demarcate the maritime border between Lebanon and Israel which was suspended for weeks after the diplomat in charge of this file left Beirut, the Saudi Asharq al-Awsat daily reported on Saturday.

The daily said that U.S. Assistant Secretary of State David Satterfield mediating the border talks has left Beirut a few weeks ago, to join his job as ambassador to Ankara, without informing Lebanese officials of the role of Ambassador David Schenker, who will complete this task after Satterfield.

In May, Israel agreed to enter US-mediated talks with Lebanon on maritime borders that would have an impact on offshore oil and gas exploration.

Last year, Lebanon signed its first contract to drill for oil and gas in its waters, including for a block disputed by its southern neighbour Israel, with which it has fought several wars.

A consortium composed of energy giants Total, Eni and Novatek was awarded two of Lebanon's 10 exploration blocks last year.

It is set to start drilling in block 4 in December, and later in the disputed block 9.

Last year, Total said it was aware of the border dispute in less than eight percent of block 9 and said it would drill away from that area.

In April, Lebanon invited international consortia to bid for five more blocks, which include two also adjacent to Israel's waters.

Israel also produces natural gas from reserves off its coast in the Mediterranean.

Israel and Lebanon are still technically at war, although the last Israeli troops withdrew from southern Lebanon in 2000 after two decades of occupation.

SourceNaharnet
Comments 2
Missing phillipo 4 months

Doesn't Hariri realise that one simple telephone call from Beirut to Jerusalem will turn the wheels of negociations must faster than involving a third country.

Thumb chrisrushlau 4 months

Lebanon can't have fought any wars with Israel because Lebanon doesn't have a military. If you're calling Hezbullah the de facto military, hence the de facto government, of Lebanon, why not take the editorial next step and condemn Article 24's set-aside of half of the legislature to the Christian minority? If Christians are not a minority, why do they need this set-aside? Lebanon is run by "warlords", a weak term for foreign-paid/supported characters who each have a cabal around them, like Jumblatt and his PSP, and the rest of Lebanese have been shut out of government for so long, they have no confidence on living without the warlords. Meanwhile they, like Naharnet, expect Hezbullah to keep the peace. What does Hezbullah expect? Let's remember the "South Lebanon Army" run by Israel to run its occupation. One of these days, Lebanese are going to have to pick up their citizenship from where it's been left lying in the street, to paraphrase VI Ulyanov.