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Lebanese presidency denies making US Secretary of State wait at Palace

Lebanese presidency denies making US Secretary of State wait at Palace

Analysts are divided over the potential for U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's upcoming visit to Beirut to reap concrete results for Lebanon's oil and gas sector.

"Lebanese partnership as the two countries work together to pursue common goals that advance Lebanon's sovereignty, stability, and prosperity", the USA embassy said on its Twitter page. "The people of Lebanon should also be concerned about how Hezbollah's actions, its growing arsenal, bring unwanted and unhelpful scrutiny on Lebanon", Tillerson said in Beirut. On Wednesday, speaking in Amman, Tillerson had appearing to soften Washington's tone, conceding that Hezbollah is part of the "political process" in Lebanon.

From 2006 until assuming his role in U.S. President Donald Trump's administration in 2016, Tillerson was ExxonMobil's chairman and CEO.

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.

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Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblat said on Thursday that President Michel Aoun has "given his remarks" to visiting USA secretary of state Rex Tillerson, noting that he sees "positivity" in Tillerson's statements.

Tillerson is expected to meet with the country's top leaders Thursday - including President Michel Aoun, a key ally of the militant Hezbollah group - and discuss Lebanon's gas and border dispute with Israel. "Hezbollah entanglement in regional conflicts threatens the security of Lebanon and has destabilising effects on the region", he said of the Iran-backed Shia movement, which is part of the Lebanese government.

The long-standing border dispute between the two countries resurfaced recently as Lebanon invited foreign companies to sign exploration deals.

Israel claims that Lebanon will be drilling in areas owned by Israel.