Aoun Warns against 'Creating Atmosphere that Chimes with Israeli Threats'

President Michel Aoun on Thursday warned against “creating an atmosphere that chimes with Israeli threats,” a day after Israel claimed that an offshore gas field belongs to it and not to Lebanon.

Speaking before his visitors, Aoun reiterated his warning of “the dangerous stance voiced by Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman about Block 9 in the Exclusive Economic Zone in south Lebanon.”

He urged “vigilance over what the Israeli enemy is plotting against Lebanon, especially that parties inside and outside the country are working on creating an atmosphere that chimes with the Israeli threats.”

“Lebanon has moved to confront these Israeli claims through diplomatic means, while stressing its right to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity through all means possible,” the president noted.

In December, Lebanon approved a first bid to search for oil and gas in two blocks off the country's Mediterranean coast, including one that Israel says belongs to it.

Energy Minister Cesar Abi Khalil said Thursday that Lebanon will sign agreements with the explorers -- France's Total, Italy's ENI and Russia's Novatek -- next week and would be ready to begin drilling by 2019.

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