Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy Diplomacy, Amos Hochstein, speaks during an interview with The Daily Star in Beirut, Monday, March 31, 2014. (The Daily Star/Hasan Shaaban)
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A senior U.S. official advised Lebanon not to drill in disputed waters off its coast until a deal on maritime boundaries is reached, adding that Washington was working on ways to resolve competing claims over the territory.The United Nations and Washington have been working to resolve the dispute between Lebanon and Israel over 850 square kilometers of water that both countries claim.Hochstein said that the United States has been suggesting ways to resolve the dispute between Lebanon and Israel, but declined to give any details about the proposals."The main goal here is to allow Lebanon to be in a position to attract foreign investors: come to the offshore of Lebanon and be part of the economic revival," Hochstein explained.He said the United States was coordinating with the United Nations in resolving the issue of the disputed zone. A 3-D seismic survey of part of Lebanon's waters showed that Lebanon has an estimated 25 trillion cubic feet of gas off its coast.Hochstein said it was up to the Lebanese government to decide whether to auction off all 10 blocks off the coast or to begin with just three or four of them.Hochstein did not see a major problem if Lebanon delayed the April 10 auction date one more time in order to ensure political consensus.
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