Canadian tourist held in Syria: official

Canadian media say there have been no signs of British Columbia native Kristian Lee Baxter, 44, since December 1. (File/AFP)
Updated 06 January 2019
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Canadian tourist held in Syria: official

  • Canadian media say there have been no signs of British Columbia native Kristian Lee Baxter, 44, since December 1
  • The man had traveled to a village close to the Lebanese border in areas controlled by President Bashar Assad

OTTAWA: A Canadian tourist is being held in Syria, Ottawa said Saturday, after local media reported the man had traveled to a village close to the Lebanese border in areas controlled by President Bashar Assad.
Canadian media say there have been no signs of British Columbia native Kristian Lee Baxter, 44, since December 1.
Described as an “adventure” traveler by his loved ones, Baxter has made no contact since arriving at a Syrian village where his brother-in-law was born. He had traveled there despite the brutal war raging in Syria since 2011.
A Global Affairs Canada spokesman told AFP “a Canadian citizen has been detained in Syria,” without providing any further details for confidentiality reasons.
Since the Syrian war broke out, Ottawa has urged Canadians to avoid traveling to the country. The conflict has killed over 360,000 people and displaced millions more.
“The security situation across Syria significantly restrains the Canadian government’s ability to provide consular assistance,” Global Affairs said in response to a query, while noting that consular services were provided to relatives and the individual concerned “as much as possible.”
Canada has cut diplomatic ties with Damascus since the conflict began.


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.