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US negotiator back in Lebanon to iron out gas dispute with Israel

Lebanese protesters take part in a demonstration in the border town of Naqura, on June 11, 2022, days after Israel moved a gas production vessel into the offshore Karish field, a part of which is claimed by Lebanon. (Mahmoud Zayyat/ AFP)
Lebanese protesters take part in a demonstration in the border town of Naqura, on June 11, 2022, days after Israel moved a gas production vessel into the offshore Karish field, a part of which is claimed by Lebanon. (Mahmoud Zayyat/ AFP)

US envoy Amos Hochstein has arrived in Lebanon for talks aimed at resolving a dispute around an offshore oil field claimed by both Jerusalem and Beirut, after Lebanon protested Israel allowing a rig to begin extracting gas there.

Hochstein is set to meet Caretaker Energy Minister Walid Fayyad and will later attend a dinner with Deputy Speaker of Parliament Elias Bou Saab, Lebanon’s Naharnet news outlet reports.

On Tuesday, he is slated to meet President Michel Aoun, Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri and Interim Prime Minister Najib Miqati.

The visit is the first by the energy envoy since talks broke down last year when Lebanon enlarged the size of the area it was claiming.

According to Reuters, Aoun told lawmakers at a meeting earlier Monday that Lebanon could not back up its larger claim, and was preparing a counter offer instead, citing Lebanese politician Mark Dao.

Lebanese officials invited Hochstein for urgent talks after the Israeli rig moved into the Karish field last week. At the same time, Lebanese terror leader Hassan Nasrallah has made repeated threats to attack the extraction platform.

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