07:34 GMT25 September 2020
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    Lebanese President Michel Aoun has told US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson that Beirut looked for Washington's "effective role" in settling Lebanon's dispute with Israel, as the two states had clashed over offshore oil drilling areas.

    Aoun called on the United States to "work on preventing Israel from continuing its assaults on Lebanese sovereignty," saying Beirut sticks to its internationally-recognized borders and dismissed Israeli claims to a disputed maritime zone.

    The president has underscored that the offshore energy blocks are located in Lebanon's waters and thus are within Beirut's exclusive economic zone. Aoun discussed the highly contentious issue with the US Secretary of State, who is currently in Beirut.

    The US has offered Lebanon mediation to ease tensions with Israel over the offshore gas fields in the Eastern Mediterranean. So far, the Lebanese government has rejected the US plan of sharing the offshore blocks, that was proposed by US Assistant Secretary of State David Sutterfield during his visit to Beirut last week. According to the Daily Star, the initiative stipulated that the Lebanese would take up 65% of the disputed sections of the shelf. Commenting on the proposal, however, Aoun said that Lebanon will not give Israel a "millimeter." 

    The tension between Israel and Lebanon has increased after Beirut backed provisions for the right to explore two energy blocks, namely, Block 4 and Block 9, by a consortium of foreign energy companies. The Israeli authorities have protested the move with Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman saying that the zone was Tel Aviv's "by any definition." Aoun then said that the Israeli claim threatened Lebanon.


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    oil, field, offshore, gas, Lebanon, Israel
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