Lebanon tells United States committed to calm at southern border

Lebanon tells United States committed to calm at southern border

Lebanon tells United States committed to calm at southern border

Tillerson's visit, the first by a U.S. Secretary of State to Lebanon since 2014, got off to an awkward start as he waited several minutes in Baabda Palace for his meeting with President Michel Aoun, a Hezbollah ally.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says the administration is working to ensure Lebanon's southern borders remain calm amid tension with Israel over gas drilling rights.

Monday's meeting, according to governmental sources, "looked into acting assistant US secretary of state David Satterfield's proposal" to resolve a Lebanese-Israeli dispute over an 860-sq km maritime area.

Speaking from Kuwait before making the trip to Lebanon, Tillerson assured that the U.S' differences lie "with Hezbollah and not the Lebanese people", while praising the Lebanese government's efforts in maintaining a policy of dissociation from regional conflicts.

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Israel has recently escalated its threats over Lebanon's invitation for offshore gas exploration bids along the disputed maritime border.

Tillerson is leaving Lebanon for Turkey.

Israel has accused Iran of seeking to set up weapons factories in Lebanon, and the Israeli military last month said the country had turned into one "large missile factory".

Tillerson is in Lebanon, a major recipient of USA military aid, as part of a regional tour.

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Tillerson said Hezbollah's engagement in Syria has "perpetuated the bloodshed" in that country and threatens the security of Lebanon. Earlier in the day, he met with key allies of the Iranian-backed Hezbollah group including the president and parliament speaker.

Yet Lebanese officials have continuously rejected this proposal over the years, arguing that the totality of the 860-sq km falls under Lebanon's jurisdiction.

"We will continue to be very engaged with both parties".

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