Date: Aug 16, 2019
Source: The Daily Star
Hariri hopes for border dispute decision next month
BEIRUT: Prime Minister Saad Hariri has affirmed Lebanon's commitment to continuing the negotiating process led by the U.S. government on the land and maritime border dispute with Tel Aviv.

"We consider the process to be viable and will continue to support [the] constitutional next step leading up to a final decision in the coming months, hopefully September," Hariri said after meeting U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in Washington, on Thursday.

For his part, Pompeo spoke of the importance of land and maritime border resolutions, saying he hoped to “see substantive discussions on these important issues, the resolution of which would be greatly beneficial to Lebanon and to the broader region.”

Hariri and Pompeo were speaking in a joint news conference.

Earlier this year, former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Satterfield was shuttling between Lebanon and Israel in an attempt to mediate border talks between the two countries which sit on large deposits of natural gas in the eastern Mediterranean Sea.

An area of around 860 square km is disputed between the two countries and is situated next to Lebanon’s maritime Block 9 in which Lebanon hopes to begin exploratory drilling in December.

Pompeo also reaffirmed his country's support for Lebanon.

"I had a productive meeting with [PM Hariri] today and reaffirmed U.S. support for #Lebanon’s security & stability," Pompeo tweeted after the meeting.

But the top U.S. diplomat said more sanctions would be slapped against Hezbollah members and supporters.

Pompeo said he told Hariri about "strong concerns" over Hezbollah and "reiterated that U.S. sanctions against Hezbollah members and its supporters will continue."