US Energy envoy to visit Lebanon over maritime border dispute with Israel

Published June 29th, 2015 - 07:51 GMT

A top U.S. official is expected to visit Beirut to discuss with top Lebanese officials the demarcation of the maritime border with Israel, an issue which was thoroughly discussed by Prime Minister Tammam Salam and Speaker Nabih Berri over the weekend.

Amos Hochstein, who serves as the Special Envoy and Coordinator for International Energy Affairs leading the Bureau of Energy Resources (ENR) at the U.S. Department of State, will travel to Beirut this week.

His visit would come against the backdrop of talks that Berri has held with Salam, al-Mustaqbal bloc leader MP Fouad Saniora and Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil.

The officials have agreed to form a committee of experts which informed Washington and the United Nations that Lebanon holds onto the demarcation of its maritime border under the supervision of the U.N.

They also rejected any Israeli aggression on Lebanon's maritime and oil rights.

Lebanon and Israel are bickering over a maritime zone that consists of about 854 square kilometers and suspected energy reserves there could generate billions of dollars.

Lebanese officials have continuously warned that Israel's exploration of new offshore gas fields near Lebanese territorial waters means the Jewish state is siphoning some of Lebanon's crude oil.

The U.S. had offered to mediate between the sides in an attempt to reach a solution.

Beirut argues that a maritime map it submitted to the U.N. is in line with an armistice accord drawn up in 1949, an agreement which is not contested by Israel.


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