The United States will send an envoy to Lebanon next week to discuss the country's energy crisis and underscore Washington's hope that Beirut and Israel can reach a decision delimiting their maritime boundary, the State Department said on Friday.
Amos Hochstein, the State Department's senior advisor for energy security, will visit Lebanon June 13-14, the department said in a statement. Washington began mediating indirect talks over Israel and Lebanon's disputed maritime border in 2020.
"The Administration welcomes the consultative and open spirit of the parties to reach a final decision, which has the potential to yield greater stability, security, and prosperity for both Lebanon and Israel, as well as for the region," the statement said.
The Lebanese government invited on Monday the US envoy to return to Beirut as soon as possible to work out an agreement amid rising tensions along the border.
The invitation for Hochstein came a day after Israel set up a gas rig at its designated location at the Karish field, which Israel says is part of its UN-recognized exclusive economic zone. Lebanon insists it is in a disputed area.
On Sunday, Lebanon warned Israel not to start drilling in the Karish field and President Michel Aoun said maritime border negotiations have not ended, adding that any move by Israel will be considered "a provocation and hostile act."
Aoun’s office said Lebanon formally notified the United Nations in February that Karish is part of the disputed area and that the UN Security Council should prevent Israel from drilling there in order "to avoid steps that could form a threat to international peace and security."