US official in Lebanon to discuss border dispute with Israel

US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State David Satterfield, left, holds talks with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri in Beirut on Tuesday. (AP)
Updated 15 May 2019

US official in Lebanon to discuss border dispute with Israel

  • David Satterfield arrived Tuesday, beginning a two-day visit to meet with Lebanese officials

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri has received a US official as Washington mediates a maritime border dispute with Israel.

Acting Assistant Secretary of State David Satterfield arrived Tuesday, beginning a two-day visit to meet with Lebanese officials.

Satterfield’s visit comes a week after President Michel Aoun presented the US ambassador to Lebanon with a “unified stance” regarding the demarcation of the maritime border between Lebanon and Israel.

Last month, Lebanon’s Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri told the commander of the UN peacekeeping force in Lebanon, Maj. Gen. Stefano del Col, that Beirut is ready to establish the maritime border and special economic zone with Israel.

There are some 860 sq. km of waters claimed by the two countries, which are technically in a state of conflict.

Torture allegations

Separately, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has called for “a thorough, effective and independent investigation” into the death of a Lebanese man who was allegedly tortured by police intelligence.

Michelle Bachelet said Hassan Diqa died Saturday despite numerous interventions by a variety of UN entities with Lebanese authorities after he was allegedly tortured while detained on drug-related charges in November.

Bachelet said Tuesday that Diqa’s death “highlights what appears to be a number of very serious failings in Lebanon’s legal and prison systems.”

She said those who ordered the crime must be held accountable.

Diqa’s father, Toufic, said his son suffered partial paralysis of his left leg. 

He was admitted to hospital in early April and remained there until his dea

Philippines warns of ‘unfriendly’ greeting for uninvited warships

Updated 57 min 58 sec ago

Philippines warns of ‘unfriendly’ greeting for uninvited warships

  • There have been multiple sightings of Chinese warships in Philippine territorial waters
  • The Philippines has lodged several diplomatic protests in recent weeks

MANILA: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has warned of “unfriendly” treatment for foreign ships traveling in the country’s territorial waters without permission, in a rare swipe at China’s use of warships just a few miles off Manila’s coast.
Duterte’s spokesman, Salvador Panelo, on Tuesday made the demand for transparency amid frustration by the Philippine military at multiple sightings this year of Chinese warships moving within the country’s 12 mile territorial sea, at various locations in the archipelago.
“All foreign vessels passing our territorial waters must notify and get clearance from the proper government authority well in advance of the actual passage,” Panelo said.
“Either we get a compliance in a friendly manner or we enforce it in an unfriendly manner,” he added.
Panelo did not refer to China by name, nor elaborate on what that enforcement might entail.
The Philippines has lodged several diplomatic protests in recent weeks over the activities of Chinese coast guard, navy and paramilitary fishing vessels in Philippine-controlled areas of the South China Sea and in its territorial waters.
The armed forces has released images and cited witness sightings between February and early August of Chinese warships off Palawan and Tawi Tawi islands, a pattern that Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana last week described as an “irritant.”
Duterte is facing heat at home for what critics say is his passive approach to Chinese provocations in exchange for a business relationship with Beijing that is not working out well for him, with promised investments slow in coming.
Though surveys consistently show Duterte enjoying a level of domestic approval never seen at this point in a presidency, the same polls show growing disdain for China over its conduct in the South China Sea, and reservations among some Filipinos over a massive influx of Chinese online gaming workers under Duterte.
Duterte will visit China from Aug. 28 to Sept. 2, his spokesman said. He has promised to discuss a South China Sea 2016 international arbitration victory over China with counterpart Xi Jinping.
Duterte has until now chosen not to push that ruling, which invalidated China’s claim of sovereignty over most of the South China Sea. Beijing did not participate in the court proceedings and rejected the ruling.
The South China Sea is a vital route for ships carrying more than $3 trillion in trade every year. The Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam, Taiwan and Brunei also have overlapping claims to parts of it.