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