President Michel Aoun Saturday asked U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ help in officially demarcating the southern border between Lebanon and Israel, the subject of a dispute between the countries.
Aoun had met with Guterres following his arrival in Tunisia to participate in the Arab League summit taking place there.
The Lebanese president had asked Guterres to help “convince” Israel to be responsive to Lebanon’s desire to delineate the border, a statement from his office reported.
The issue of officially demarcating Lebanon’s southern maritime border with Israel has in the past few years picked up steam as Lebanon is set embark on oil and gas exploration. One of the two areas designated for exploration in the coming year sits partially in disputed territory.
A source close to Speaker Nabih Berri previously told The Daily Star that during a meeting last week in Beirut with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the speaker had accepted a proposal to form a tripartite committee - including representatives of the U.N. secretary-general, Lebanon and Israel - to delineate the southern border. A U.S. representative would also facilitate the committee’s work.
Aoun also raised the hot-button issue of Syrian refugee returns with the secretary-general, noting that Lebanon would continue organizing convoys for refugees who volunteer to head back to Syria - a practice Lebanese General Security began in July.
Just fewer than 1 million Syrian refugees are registered with the U.N.’s refugee agency, the UNHCR, in Lebanon, though Lebanese officials say closer to 1.5 million reside in the country.
From December 2017 to March 20 of this year, 172,046 refugees returned, the agency announced earlier this month.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
Copyright © 2020, The Daily Star. All rights reserved.