China, Iran meet amid efforts to preserve nuclear deal

Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif met with China’s Wang Yi. (File/AFP)
Updated 19 February 2019
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China, Iran meet amid efforts to preserve nuclear deal

  • Germany, Britain, France, China, Russia and the EU have been trying to preserve the 2015 deal
  • The deal was meant to keep Tehran from obtaining a nuclear weapon but the US withdrew from it last year

BEIJING: The foreign ministers of China and Iran met in Beijing on Tuesday amid efforts to preserve the 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran.
No details were immediately released about the discussions between China’s Wang Yi and Iran’s Mohammad Javad Zarif, who is leading a delegation that includes parliamentary speaker Ali Larijani and the ministers of finance and petroleum, as well as the CEO of the country’s central bank.
Germany, Britain, France, China, Russia and the European Union have been trying to preserve the 2015 deal meant to keep Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon in exchange for sanctions relief after the unilateral withdrawal of the US last year.
Zarif told the Munich Security Conference on Sunday that a barter-type system known as INSTEX set up last month by France, Germany and Britain to allow businesses to skirt direct financial transactions with Iran, and thereby evade possible US sanctions, fell short of commitments to save the nuclear deal.
Zarif addressed the conference a day after US Vice President Mike Pence prodded Germany, France and Britain to follow Washington in withdrawing from the deal and to “stop undermining US sanctions.”
Prior to Larijani’s departure from Tehran, China’s official Xinhua News Agency quoted him as saying Iran and China have “close and amicable” relations in diverse areas, and that both sides have enjoyed the support of each other in the international arena.


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.