Lebanon president says US pullout from Iran deal will hurt Middle East

FILE PHOTO: Lebanese President Michel Aoun at the presidential palace in Baabda, Lebanon, Nov. 7, 2017. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir/File Photo
Updated 16 July 2018
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Lebanon president says US pullout from Iran deal will hurt Middle East

  • "US withdrawal from the nuclear agreement will have negative repercussions for stability in the region," Aoun wrote
  • Aoun is a political ally of Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah

BEIRUT: Lebanese President Michel Aoun said on Monday the US withdrawal from world powers’ 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran would have negative consequences for Middle East stability.
Aoun, a Maronite Christian politician, is a political ally of Lebanon’s Iran-backed Shiite Muslim group Hezbollah. The United States, which classifies Hezbollah as a terrorist organization, arms and trains Lebanon’s army.
“The unilateral US withdrawal from the nuclear agreement (in May) will have negative repercussions for security and stability in the region,” Aoun wrote on Twitter, his first public comment on the accord.
“Lebanon considered (the deal) a cornerstone for stability in the region, helping make it an area free of weapons of mass destruction,” Aoun’s office said in a statement summarising a meeting between him and Iranian foreign ministry official Hossein Jaberi Ansari.
Aoun said he welcomed the commitment of other countries to continue with the deal.
In Lebanon’s May parliamentary elections Hezbollah together with groups and individuals that are politically aligned to it won more than half of parliament’s seats, boosting the group politically.
Under the 2015 accord, Iran won a lifting of international sanctions in return for verifiable curbs on its disputed uranium enrichment program.
US President Donald Trump withdrew Washington from the deal in May, calling it deeply flawed, and has reimposed stringent US sanctions, heaping pressure on other signatories including major European allies to follow suit.
European powers have reaffirmed their commitment to the accord and say they will do more to encourage their businesses to stay engaged with Iran, though a number of firms have already said they plan to pull out to avoid US penalties.


Beirut praises ‘progress’ on maritime border dispute

Updated 21 May 2019
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Beirut praises ‘progress’ on maritime border dispute

  • Israel and Lebanon both claim ownership of an 860-square-kilometer area of the Mediterranean Sea.
  • Lebanon insists that the area lies within its economic zone and refuses to give up a single part of it

BEIRUT: Lebanon has hinted that progress is being made in efforts to resolve its maritime border dispute with Israel following the return of a US mediator from talks with Israeli officials.

US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Satterfield returned to Lebanon following talks in Israel where he outlined Lebanese demands regarding the disputed area and the mechanism to reach a settlement.

The US mediator has signaled a new push to resolve the dispute after meetings with both Lebanese and Israeli officials.

Israel and Lebanon both claim ownership of an 860-square-kilometer area of the Mediterranean Sea. Lebanon hopes to begin offshore oil and gas production in the offshore Block 9 as it grapples with an economic crisis.

A source close to Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, who met with Satterfield on Monday after his return to Lebanon, told Arab News that “there is progress in the efforts, but the discussion is not yet over.” He did not provide further details.

Sources close to the Lebanese presidency confirmed that Lebanon is counting on the US to help solve the demarcation dispute and would like to accelerate the process to allow exploration for oil and gas to begin in the disputed area.

Companies that will handle the exploration require stability in the area before they start working, the sources said.

Previous efforts by Satterfield to end the dispute failed in 2012 and again last year after Lebanon rejected a proposal by US diplomat Frederick Hoff that offered 65 percent of the disputed area to Lebanon and 35 percent to Israel. Lebanon insisted that the area lies within its economic zone and refused to give up a single part of it.

Satterfield has acknowledged Lebanon’s ownership of around 500 sq km of the disputed 850 sq km area.

Lebanon renewed its commitment to a mechanism for setting the negotiations in motion, including the formation of a tripartite committee with representatives of Lebanon, Israel and the UN, in addition to the participation of the US mediator. Beirut also repeated its refusal to negotiate directly with Israel.

Two months ago, Lebanon launched a marine environmental survey in blocks 4 and 9 in Lebanese waters to allow a consortium of French, Italian and Russian companies to begin oil and gas exploration in the area.