Lebanon Prime Minister Hopes for Decision in September on Disputed Gas Pipeline

WASHINGTON (Reuters) — Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri said on Thursday after talks in Washington that he hoped for a final decision, possibly in September, on a proposal for resolving a maritime border dispute with Israel on a gas pipeline

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo welcomed Lebanon’s commitment to the talks and reiterated Washington’s willingness to facilitate discussions.

“We consider the process to be viable and will continue to support constitutional next steps leading up to a final decision in the coming months, hopefully September,” Hariri said in a statement to the press after meetings with Pompeo.

Beirut has an unresolved maritime border dispute with Israel - which it regards as an enemy country - over a sea area of about 860 square km (330 square miles) extending along the edge of three of Lebanon’s southern energy blocks.

Senior U.S. official David Satterfield has been shuttling between Lebanon and Israel trying to launch the talks between the countries, which have remained formally in a state of war since Israel was founded in 1948.

In his statement, Pompeo said a resolution to the dispute would “be greatly beneficial” to Lebanon and the region.

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