Tillerson to Urge Neutrality in Lebanon, Propose Offshore Gas Settlement
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will stress during his Thursday visit to Lebanon the need for the country to abide by a policy of neutrality towards regional conflicts in order to guarantee continued support from the international community for its security and sovereignty, a media report said.
As for the latest territorial and maritime border disputes between Lebanon and Israel, the top U.S. diplomat will call on Lebanon to “exclusively resort to the United Nations to defend its sovereignty,” al-Joumhouria newspaper quoted diplomatic sources in Washington and Beirut as saying.
Tillerson will say that Lebanon “should maintain its traditional policy of seeking diplomatic action before resorting to violence,” the sources said.
He will also urge the Lebanese state to “distance itself from Hizbullah because the international community led by the U.S. is determined to continue imposing sanctions on the party until it abides by the international and Lebanese legitimate authorities.”
In this regard, Tillerson will announce that Lebanon can continue to count on the U.S. and the international community as long as it commits to the relevant U.N. conventions and resolutions.
Sources informed on the negotiations over the territorial and maritime borders meanwhile told al-Joumhouria that the Lebanese side “has prepared a unified stance that will be told to Tillerson.”
Lebanese officials will tell the U.S. visitor that Lebanon “will not accept to negotiate on the offshore (gas and oil) blocks as per former U.S. envoy Frederick Hoff's suggestion that Lebanon get 55% of the Exclusive Economic Zone,” the sources said.
“Tillerson will try to convince Lebanese officials to accept 55% of Blocks 8, 9 and 10 according to the border line demarcated with Cyprus which ends at Point (1),” the sources added, noting that Lebanon “wants the demarcation line to end at Point (23) in line with international maps and its maritime rights that are documented with the U.N.”