Naharnet

Report: Satterfield Admits Block 9 Belongs to Lebanon, Suggests 'Giving Something' to Israel

Assistant U.S. Secretary of State David Satterfield admitted during negotiations with Lebanese leaders that the offshore gas Block 9 belongs to Lebanon as he urged them to "give something" of it to Israel, al-Hayat newspaper reported.

Official sources informed on the negotiations also told the daily in remarks published Sunday that "Lebanon has a study and maps for the disputed maritime area that allow it to say that it owns an area exceeding the declared 860 square kilometers."

"Some aspects of the maps were discussed during the meeting of the Public Works Parliamentary Committee on Thursday," the sources added.

Lebanon this month signed its first contract to drill for oil and gas in a pair of offshore zones, including one that Israel says belongs to it.

The United States has sought to mediate the disagreement, with Satterfield meeting with top officials in Lebanon since February 6.

A consortium comprising energy giants Total, ENI, and Novatek has pledged to begin drilling off of Lebanon's coast by 2019.

Total has said that the dispute between Lebanon and Israel over Block 9 only covers eight percent of its surface area.

But Lebanese officials have said the whole zone belongs to Lebanon, and Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman has insisted it is solidly in Israeli territory.


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