US envoy visits Beirut, mediating in Lebanon-Israel dispute

Acting US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, David Satterfield, is in Beirut as part of a US shuttle diplomacy effort to resolve tensions between Israel and Lebanon over a border wall and energy drilling in disputed waters. (Reuters)
Updated 21 February 2018
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US envoy visits Beirut, mediating in Lebanon-Israel dispute

BEIRUT: A senior US diplomat met Lebanon’s foreign minister on Wednesday in Beirut as part of a US shuttle diplomacy effort to resolve tensions between Israel and Lebanon over a border wall and energy drilling in disputed waters.
Disputes over Israeli construction of the border wall, Lebanon’s start of oil and gas exploration at sea and the growing arsenal of Lebanon’s Iran-backed group Hezbollah have caused a spike in tensions between Lebanon and Israel, both friends of the United States that regard each other as enemies.
Lebanon this month signed its first offshore energy exploration and production agreements with a consortium of France’s Total, Italy’s Eni and Russia’s Novatek. One of two blocks given to the consortium, Block 9, contains waters claimed by Israel.
, has been shuttling back and forth between Israel and Lebanon in a bid to resolve the disputes.
He met Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil on Wednesday in Beirut. The two had last met on Friday, after which Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri reiterated Lebanon’s rejection of US proposals to resolve the maritime dispute as “unacceptable.”
This was an apparent reference to a maritime demarcation line proposed by US diplomat Frederic Hof in 2012, which would give Lebanon around two-thirds and Israel around one-third of a disputed triangular area of sea of around 860 sq km (330 square miles).
A senior Lebanese government source said Satterfield did not come with any new plan, and talks still revolve around the Hof line.
A source in the foreign ministry said he discussed the disputed area, how Lebanon can preserve its rights and how to keep exploration and drilling from being affected.
Satterfield left without making any public comments.
The US Embassy in Lebanon said Satterfield “continues to engage” on regional issues and on helping Lebanon develop its resources in agreement with its neighbors.


Turkish air strikes kill 26 militants in southeast Turkey, Iraq

Updated 38 min 54 sec ago
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Turkish air strikes kill 26 militants in southeast Turkey, Iraq

ISTANBUL: Turkish air strikes killed 26 militants and destroyed their gun positions, shelters and ammunition stores in southeast Turkey and northern Iraq this week, Turkey’s armed forces said on Tuesday.
The military said in a statement released on its Twitter account the air strikes were carried out on Sunday and Monday in Turkey’s Diyarbakir and Sirnak provinces and in the Avasin-Basyan area of northern Iraq, where the Kurdistan Workers Party militant group has bases.