By Arab News
By Najia Houssari
Lebanon is committed to maintaining internal security, Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri told US energy security envoy Amos Hochstein on Wednesday, hours before a UN vote on peacekeeping missions in the south of the country was delayed.
Berri highlighted “the depth of the relationship with UNIFIL since 1978, and Lebanon’s keenness to maintain stability and its sovereignty over all of Lebanese territory.”
The US envoy began a two-day visit to Lebanon to follow up on the historic maritime boundary agreement reached last October, and discuss areas of mutual and regional interest.
Hochstein oversaw the demarcation of maritime borders between Lebanon and Israel through indirect negotiations mediated by the US, and Lebanon is awaiting the results of exploration in Block 9, which was initiated by TotalEnergies. It is expected to take 60 days to discover the viability of commercial gas operations in the block.
The US energy envoy was accompanied by US Ambassador to Lebanon Dorothy Shea, who described the meeting with Berri as “excellent and constructive.”
On the first day of his visit, Hochstein also met caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati and Energy Minister Walid Fayad.
Hochstein’s visit comes at the invitation of the tripartite consortium of oil and gas exploration in Lebanese waters, which includes TotalEnergies of France, Eni of Italy and Qatar Energy. It comes days after Total began exploring for oil in Block 9, and as preparations are underway for a mission related to exploration surveys in Block 8.
The US envoy, accompanied by Fayad and Total officials, is set to visit an oil platform during his trip.
Hours after Hochstein’s arrival, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian arrived in Lebanon on an unscheduled visit. His visit to the country comes after his latest trip to Riyadh, which involved talks with the Saudi leadership.
The Iranian minister’s itinerary includes meetings with Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati, as well as the Hezbollah leadership.
Iranian Ambassador to Lebanon Mojtaba Amani said on X (formerly Twitter) that Abdollahian’s agenda involves “talks and meetings with Lebanese officials on topics of common interest.”
He added: “This visit reflects Iran’s policy and its constructive role in supporting Lebanon’s stability and prosperity.”