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techkenyot.com November 16, 2018


Tillerson says Hezbollah actions threaten Lebanon, region

15 February 2018, 07:50 | Glen Norman

Tillerson says Hezbollah actions threaten Lebanon, region

Tillerson says Hezbollah actions threaten Lebanon, region

Shiite movement Hezbollah - the only faction to have retained its weapons after Lebanon s civil war - is a member of the Lebanese government of Prime Minister Saad Hariri.

Israel has recently escalated its threats over Lebanon's invitation for offshore gas exploration bids along the countries' maritime border claiming that Lebanon will be drilling in areas owned by Israel.

Lebanon has vehemently denied those claims, arguing that the wall encroaches on Lebanese territory in 13 areas along the blue line which demarcated Israel's withdrawal from southern Lebanon in 2000, with Israel's recent incursions suggesting that it views the blue line as the definitive border between both sets of countries. US officials have previously tried to mediate the dispute, including most recently by David Satterfield, the USA acting assistance secretary of state who visited the border area in south Lebanon last week, and was accompanying Tillerson on Thursday.

US President Donald Trump has been tough on Hezbollah, imposing new sanctions created to damage Iran and its allies.

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Turning to the Syrian refugee crisis, Aoun said Lebanon "which hosted more than 1.85 million Syrian refugees on its soil since the beginning of the bloody events in Syria, can no longer bear further repercussions on its security, stability, economy and social, educational and health situations".

President Michel Aoun on Thursday called on Washington to press Israel to stop its "continued violations against Lebanon's territorial, maritime and aerial sovereignty", during talks in Baabda with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

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.

The US Secretary of state is on a five-day regional tour taking in Lebanon as well as Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait and Turkey. Lebanon is upset about Israel's construction of a dividing wall along the border between the two countries, which are still technically at war.

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Hezbollah has always rejected any demand that it give up its weapons, which it says are necessary to defend Lebanon against Israel.

Aoun also told Tillerson that the USA should urge Israel to "commit to the implementation of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701".

The long-standing dispute resurfaced recently as Lebanon signed a deal with an global consortium to start exploratory offshore drilling next year.

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