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Lebanese president: ‘We count on Washington’s role in demarcating borders with Israel’

October 17, 2020 at 11:43 am

Lebanese President, Michel Aoun in Beirut, Lebanon on 20 September 2020 [Lebanese Presidency/ Anadolu Agency]

Lebanese President Michel Aoun announced on Friday that his country is relying on the US role to reach fair solutions during the negotiations to demarcate maritime borders with Israel.

This came during Aoun’s meeting with US Assistant Secretary of State for Middle East Affairs David Schenker in the capital of Beirut, according to a statement issued by the Lebanese presidency.

The statement disclosed that the Lebanese president thanked Washington for its support to Lebanon following the Beirut port explosion, and its aid to those affected by the blast.

Aoun stressed that the authorities are working to form a competent government that focuses on achieving the necessary reforms to overcome deteriorating economic and financial conditions in the country.

The Beirut port explosion that took place last August caused more than 190 deaths and over 6,000 were injured, in addition to dozens of missing persons and massive material damage, which resulted in more than $15 billion in losses, according to preliminary official figures.

READ: Lebanon is no longer begging for change. Instead, it’s begging to leave.

The catastrophic explosion worsened the situation in a country that has been suffering for months from an economic crisis, which was described as the worst since the end of the civil war (1975-1990).

The US official stressed that the US will continue facilitating and mediating in the negotiations for the demarcation of the southern maritime border between Lebanon and Israel.

He expressed his hope that these negotiations will be completed as soon as possible and reach positive results, and that: “A productive government will be formed to implement the necessary economic reforms in the country.”

Schenker considered that: “Establishing reforms in Lebanon is essential, especially since there is no difference between politics and the economy.”

On Wednesday, Schenker participated in the first session of negotiations to demarcate the maritime border between Lebanon and Israel, at the headquarters of the United Nations (UN) force in the Naqoura region, south of Lebanon.

These negotiations come after years of US mediation and under the auspices of the UN, represented by UN Special Coordinator in Lebanon Jan Kubis.

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Lebanon is engaged in a conflict with Israel over an oil and gas-rich area in the Mediterranean, covering about 860 square kilometres, known as “zone 9”.

Unlike the Hezbollah-controlled land borders, which witness tensions from time to time due to what Tel Aviv refers to as attempts by Hezbollah fighters to breach the borders, the maritime borders between Lebanon and Israel are relatively calm.