Published: Thu, February 15, 2018
World | By Paul Elliott

Tillerson says working for calm Lebanon borders

Tillerson says working for calm Lebanon borders

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Thursday the United States had "never given heavy arms" to the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia and there was therefore "nothing to take back".

Israeli-Lebanese tensions have spiked in recent months because of Israeli plans to build a wall at the border, and because of Lebanon's decision to begin exploring for oil and gas in an offshore block in disputed waters.

Tillerson also stressed Washington's support for the Lebanese people and legitimate institutions.

Tillerson's visit comes in the wake of Lebanon signing its first offshore oil and gas exploration agreements with an global consortium of energy companies, comprising France's Total, Italy's Eni and Russia's Novatek.

Tillerson "reaffirmed to Berri the importance of the close U.S".

Yet Lebanese officials have continuously rejected this proposal over the years, arguing that the totality of the 860-sq km falls under Lebanon's jurisdiction. Aoun discussed the highly contentious issue with the US Secretary of State, who is now in Beirut.

Hezbollah, which the United States deems a terrorist organization, has increased its military strength since the last major conflict with Israel in 2006.

In the wake of the crisis Lebanon's political players - including Hezbollah - agreed to stick to the country's official policy of "disassociation" to stay out of regional conflicts.

The policy the three leaders wish to put forth is one hinging on the notion that Israel's actions along the southern and maritime border infringe upon Lebanon's rights. Lebanon is upset about Israel's construction of a dividing wall along the border between the two countries, which are still technically at war. USA officials have previously tried to mediate the Israeli-Lebanese dispute.

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