Top US energy adviser in Lebanon for power crisis talks

Amos Hochstein will also discuss Lebanon-Israel maritime border row with foreign minister


Amos J Hochstein, Senior Vice President Marketing, Tellurian Inc, at the "LNG Trading" panel at the Middle East Petroleum & Gas conference.

(Photo by Reem Mohammed/The National)

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The US mediator for Lebanon-Israel maritime border talks met President Michel Aoun in Beirut on Wednesday, months after indirect negotiations broke down.

Amos Hochstein, who is also a senior US adviser for global energy security, will also discuss potential solutions to Lebanon’s energy crisis. He is set to meet the Lebanese foreign minister later on Wednesday.

Petrol shortages have plunged the country into darkness intermittently for the past six months.

The US embassy said in a statement that Mr Hochstein will “discuss sustainable solutions to Lebanon’s energy crisis”. He arrived in Beirut on Tuesday.

His visit is part of a wider US effort to counter a push by Hezbollah for Lebanon to import Iranian fuel in defiance of US sanctions.

The group has presented Iranian fuel as a solution to Lebanon’s energy crisis, caused by a scarcity of foreign currency reserves after two years of economic meltdown.

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said last week that Lebanon should request US sanctions waivers to import Iranian fuel. The group has been driving Iranian petrol illegally by lorry through Syria since August.

The Lebanese government said it was not involved in those operations.

The US has pushed for a deal to provide Egyptian gas to Jordan, where it will be used to generate electricity that can be transferred to Lebanon through Syria.

Mr Hochstein’s visit will also “underscore the Biden Administration’s willingness to help Lebanon and Israel find a mutually agreeable solution to their shared maritime boundary,” the US embassy said.

Lebanon and Israel do not have diplomatic ties and are technically still at war. The two countries have yet to officially demarcate their land and maritime borders.

US-mediated talks to demarcate sea borders broke down in May after Lebanon expanded claims over disputed areas.

The dispute has delayed hydrocarbon exploration for Lebanon in those areas while Israel has begun tapping into hydrocarbon discoveries.

Updated: October 20, 2021, 9:22 AM