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Lebanon urges US to continue mediation on Israel border dispute

AFP
Beirut
Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun on Tuesday urged Washington to help mediate a solution to a maritime border dispute with Israel, as Beirut looks to start offshore oil and gas exploration.
Aoun made the request during talks with US Assistant Secretary of Near Eastern Affairs David Schenker, who is on a two-day visit to Lebanon as part of a regional tour.
Shankar recently replaced David Satterfield, who had shuffled between Lebanon and Israel in recent months, in an effort to reach a settlement on land and maritime border disputes.
“Lebanon hopes that the United States will continue its mediation efforts... (picking up) where things stopped with envoy David Satterfield,” Aoun said.
“We have agreed on many points, only a few sticking points remain,” he added.
Schenker said Washington was ready to “renew its efforts”, according to a statement released by Aoun’s office.
Earlier the head of Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah movement Hassan Nasrallah warned against negotiating with “an American envoy allied with Israel”, calling on the Lebanese to negotiate from a position of strength.
Lebanon and Israel are still technically at war.
The issue of the shared maritime border is sensitive, mainly because of a dispute over coastal drilling rights.
In February 2018, Lebanon signed its first contract for offshore drilling for oil and gas with a consortium comprising energy giants Total, ENI and Novatek.
Two blocks in the eastern Mediterranean are part of the deal, but Israel claims that part of Block 9 belongs to the Jewish state.

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