Sunday, June 2, 2024

US and Iranian diplomats in Lebanon amidst UNIFIL renewal vote setback


Lebanon Reaffirms Commitment to Internal Security in Meeting with US Energy Envoy

In a meeting with US energy security envoy Amos Hochstein, Lebanon’s Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri emphasized the country’s dedication to maintaining internal security. The meeting took place just hours before a UN vote on peacekeeping missions in southern Lebanon was postponed. Berri highlighted the long-standing relationship with the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) since 1978 and Lebanon’s determination to preserve stability and sovereignty over its entire territory.

The purpose of Hochstein’s visit to Lebanon was to follow up on the historic maritime boundary agreement reached between Lebanon and Israel in October of last year. The US envoy oversaw the demarcation of maritime borders through indirect negotiations mediated by the US. Lebanon is now awaiting the results of exploration in Block 9, initiated by TotalEnergies, which will determine the feasibility of commercial gas operations in the area. The exploration is expected to take approximately 60 days.

Accompanying Hochstein on his visit was US Ambassador to Lebanon Dorothy Shea, who described the meeting with Berri as “excellent and constructive.” During his first day in Lebanon, Hochstein also met with caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati and Energy Minister Walid Fayad. The discussions focused on areas of mutual and regional interest.

Hochstein’s visit was at the invitation of the tripartite consortium of oil and gas exploration in Lebanese waters, which includes TotalEnergies, Eni of Italy, and Qatar Energy. This visit comes shortly after TotalEnergies began oil exploration activities in Block 9 and as preparations are underway for exploration surveys in Block 8. As part of his trip, Hochstein, accompanied by Fayad and Total officials, is scheduled to visit an oil platform.

Interestingly, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian arrived in Lebanon on an unscheduled visit just hours after Hochstein’s arrival. Abdollahian’s visit to Lebanon followed his recent trip to Riyadh, where he held talks with Saudi leadership. During his visit to Lebanon, Abdollahian is set to meet with Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati, and Hezbollah leadership.

Iranian Ambassador to Lebanon Mojtaba Amani stated that Abdollahian’s agenda includes discussions and meetings with Lebanese officials on topics of common interest. He also emphasized that the visit reflects Iran’s policy and its constructive role in supporting Lebanon’s stability and prosperity.

The simultaneous visits of the US energy envoy and the Iranian foreign minister highlight the significance of Lebanon’s strategic location in the region. With ongoing tensions and power struggles in the Middle East, Lebanon serves as a crucial meeting point for various regional players. The country’s potential for oil and gas exploration further adds to its geopolitical importance.

Lebanon’s commitment to maintaining internal security is crucial for attracting foreign investment and ensuring stability in the region. The historic maritime boundary agreement reached with Israel has opened up opportunities for economic growth through oil and gas exploration. The results of the exploration in Block 9 will determine the future prospects for commercial gas operations in Lebanon.

The presence of both US and Iranian officials in Lebanon underscores the complex dynamics at play in the region. While the United States has been actively involved in mediating agreements and supporting Lebanon’s stability, Iran’s involvement signifies its desire to exert influence and support its allies in the country.

As Lebanon navigates these geopolitical challenges, it is essential for the government to prioritize internal security and maintain strong relationships with international partners. The commitment to stability and sovereignty expressed by Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri is a positive step in this direction.

In conclusion, Lebanon’s commitment to internal security was reaffirmed in a meeting between Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri and US energy envoy Amos Hochstein. The visit comes at a crucial time as Lebanon awaits the results of oil and gas exploration in Block 9. The simultaneous visits of US and Iranian officials highlight the country’s strategic importance in the region. As Lebanon continues to navigate geopolitical challenges, maintaining stability and strong international relationships will be key to its success.

Latest stories