Ahead of Tillerson's visit, Lebanon seeks strategy to weather regional turmoil

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Lebanon says part of the wall follows the UN-demarcated "Blue Line" that was drawn up after Israel withdrew from southern Lebanon in 2000, and insists some sections will cut into its territory.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is urging Hezbollah to cease its activities overseas to help reduce tensions in the region. Earlier in the day, he met with key allies of the Iranian-backed Hezbollah group including the president and parliament speaker.

Turning to the Syrian refugee crisis, Aoun said Lebanon "which hosted more than 1.85 million Syrian refugees on its soil since the beginning of the bloody events in Syria, can no longer bear further repercussions on its security, stability, economy and social, educational and health situations".

Lebanese President Michel Aoun has told US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson that Beirut looked for Washington's "effective role" in settling Lebanon's dispute with Israel, as the two states had clashed over offshore oil drilling areas.

Israel regards Hezbollah as the biggest direct threat on its borders and has repeatedly struck it in Syria, where the group is fighting alongside President Bashar al-Assad in a civil war now entering its eighth year.

Hoff's proposal was seen as an attempt to split the disputed 860-sq km, located along the edge of three of the 10 blocks that form Lebanon's exclusive economic zone (EEZ), with Lebanon relinquishing around 360-sq km to Israel while retaining around 60 percent of the area.

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The US has offered Lebanon mediation to ease tensions with Israel over the offshore gas fields in the Eastern Mediterranean.

"We also have to acknowledge the reality that they also are part of the political process in Lebanon".

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. Lebanese officials contest those claims, saying the area where it plans to drill belongs to Lebanon.

The long-standing dispute resurfaced recently as Lebanon signed a deal with an worldwide consortium to start exploratory offshore drilling next year.

Aoun also told Tillerson that the US should urge Israel to "commit to the implementation of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701".

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