Lebanon's oil rights safeguarded after downing of Israeli warplane: official

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After the downing of an Israeli warplane by Syrian forces over the weekend, Lebanon's Speaker Nabih Berri said the incident "will create new rules of engagement" as he ruled out an escalation in the region, assuring that Lebanon's oil excavation rights are safeguarded, al-Joumhouria daily reported Monday.

"What happened is larger than a battle and a little less than a war. It will create new balances and rules of engagement in the region. This event is the first of its kind in tens of years. However, no escalation is expected. Things will end there, they will not develop into a comprehensive war," the daily quoted Berri as telling his visitors.

As for the issue of Lebanon's oil and gas field, Berri said "there is no fear for our oil rights. The president of (energy giant) France's Total told me two days ago that the alliance of oil companies that will be drilling on oil and gas will not be affected by the Israeli threats."

He added "the importance of approving the prospect of exploration in Block 9 oil field lies in the fact that we have maintained our oil rights in the face of Israeli ambitions, and Lebanon's position in this regard is unified."

Israel struck what it said were Iranian targets inside Syria on Saturday in "large-scale" raids after an Israeli warplane crashed under fire from Syrian air defenses.

On Israel's threats against Lebanon and the controversial Israeli cement wall on the border between the two countries, Berri said a tripartite committee meeting would be held today in al-Naqoura to examine the Israeli response to Lebanon's position on the separation wall construed by Israel. Lebanon had informed Israel last Monday of its position in that regard and awaited its response today.

"In this regard, Lebanon will adhere to the 1949 armistice line. The Blue Line imposed by UN Resolution 1701 is not the border of southern Lebanon. What applies to Lebanon's land borders should also apply to the maritime border," stressed the Speaker. 

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